According to World Population Review, the United States has the largest population of Spanish-speaking residents, where Spanish is not the predominant language. However, a lack of access to veterinary care for Spanish speaking pet owners remains.
To help better understand these cultural and language barriers to veterinary care, researchers from the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University (CSU) are conducting a multi-year interdisciplinary study. The generous donation from PetSmart Charities will allow the university to conduct Phase 1 of their research, which involves performing a comprehensive analysis of the language needs of veterinary professionals in predominantly Spanish-speaking communities, according to a statement from Colorado State University.
“Language barriers should not arise between Spanish speaking communities and veterinary care for their companions. We are proud to support the diverse communities we live in and look forward to a future where language divisions will no longer limit access to veterinary care, ”said Aimee Gilbreath, MBA, President of PetSmart Charities.
Principal Investigator Shannon Zeller, Spanish Instructor and Curriculum Developer in the University’s Language Department, teams up with Co-Principal Investigator Danielle Frey, DVM, Director of International Veterinary Student Experiences and Outreach to the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to conduct this research. . In addition, 5 CSU students will support this initiative: a graduate teaching assistant, a graduate research assistant and 3 veterinary medicine students.
In June, CSU researchers will assess daily communication between veterinary professionals and their Spanish-speaking clients at clinics and shelters along the Front Range. Then, the team will use this information to identify existing communication gaps and uncover the actions needed to address them.
In Phase 2 of the study, which is still in need of funding, researchers will use the in-depth research from Phase 1 to help develop educational opportunities in Spanish in person and online for students at CSU and elsewhere.
“Providing a line of communication for veterinarians to interact with our country’s growing Spanish speaking community will help create access to care for these families and their pets,” says Frey.
Learn more about PetSmart Charities and its mission here.