What is the Whole Families Program?

PFA embraces the One Health approach, which recognizes that the health of people, animals, and our shared environment are interdependent. This philosophy informed the creation of our Whole Families Program. The WFP expands the traditional veterinary focus on the animal to include the human family members and their life circumstances. PFA’s Social Worker works with the family to connect them to human social services to resolve challenges such as housing insecurity, mental health issues, domestic violence, or food insecurity. Talking to pet parents about their family’s needs and worries allows early intervention and helps keep Whole Families together.

WFP in Action at PFA

We launched our Whole Families Program on the first Saturday in June 2021 with a free vaccination clinic for the town of Millville. 104 families and 188 pets were served! Volunteers surveyed families to help us learn how the Millville community views their pets and discover any unmet needs or challenges that they were facing. Every single family stated that they consider their pets to be part of the family, and that they depend on their pets for love and emotional support. This was not a surprise for us since we see every day how much our clients love their pets!

Unfortunately, we also learned that three out of every five pets were not spayed or neutered, and 40% had never seen a veterinarian before. Two out of every three families stated that they were unable to afford veterinary care. Others were facing housing- or food-insecurity, while some had pressing pet health needs. We were gratified to be able to offer assistance either directly through PFA or by having our Social Worker connect these clients to traditional social services.

In this way, PFA is forging novel relationships with human social services providers to resolve human crisis and preserve the human-animal bond.

If you would like to speak to our Social Worker, please contact Lori McGahan MSW, LCSW (Lori@pfaonline.org)