The research aims to explore COVID-19 health and safety protocol impacts on companion animal guardians living with (dis)abilities relating to veterinary medical and behavioral service access. The COVID-19 global public health crisis has impacted almost all international communities; however, vulnerable and marginalized groups have been disproportionately affected. Within the human-companion animal domain, COVID-19-driven societal impacts (e.g., social, health, and economic) not only boomed with new companion animal guardians, but also negatively influenced guardians' access to veterinary services. Although studies have examined guardian-related COVID-19-specific challenges, there is a paucity of concentration on vulnerable populations, such as persons with disabilities (PWDs). Responding to this research deficit, this study recruited twelve companion animal guardians to participate in semi-structured in-depth interviews, and eight (67%) of the twelve participants self-identified as PWDs. From a PWD perspective, this research reveals three pandemic-triggered primary barriers, preventing PWDs from pursuing veterinary services: (1) service affordability, (2) assistance program feasibility, and (3) veterinary service accessibility. This article argues that PWD-driven approaches could improve existing assistance and support programs to address PWDs' unique requirements, promoting a healthy human-animal bond.
|Publication Title||Animals (Basel)|
|Author Address||School of Social Work, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada.Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.Vancouver Humane Society, Vancouver, BC V6P 5A2, Canada.|
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