The ARF Emergency Medical Fund®️ is currently paused due to our waitlist of applicants. Please check back for program updates or visit our Financial Assistance for Veterinary Care page for more options.

Need affordable medical care for your dog or cat? If you are a Contra Costa County resident facing serious financial crises, the ARF Emergency Medical Fund® may be able to provide affordable, non-urgent veterinary care for your pet at our clinic in Walnut Creek, California. Since 1995, EMF has been a lifeline for thousands of dogs and cats.

EMF treatment cannot be used for routine, exploratory, elective, preventative, or specialty veterinary care. The term “emergency” in EMF refers to the financial crisis of a guardian unable to access affordable veterinary care.

Qualifying for EMF

  • You and your pet(s) must reside in Contra Costa County, California.
  • Household income must be at or below the U.S. Department of Housing and Development’s (HUD) definition of very low income limits.
  • We require proof that you are the regular caretaker of the animal, household income, and residency.
  • Pet must be spayed or neutered. If pet is not spayed or neutered, we offer discounted spay/neuter services if you qualify.

Apply for Assistance

The ARF Emergency Medical Fund®️ is paused due to the current waitlist of applicants. We are not accepting new applications at this time. Please check back for program updates.

Please view additional financial assistance options or see the list of resources below.

emf ladies volunteers
Volunteers Bev Greenbaum, Dorothy Bullard, Elvira Clark, Enid Schlichtman, and Dolores McCoskey — the EMF Ladies

History of EMF

Inspired by calls they received from the community, ARF volunteers Bev Greenbaum, Dorothy Bullard, Elvira Clark, Enid Schlichtman, and Dolores McCoskey — the EMF Ladies — began making and selling crafts to raise dollars to help caregivers who couldn’t afford veterinary care.

The ARF Emergency Medical Fund® was formed in 1995, and is now funded by proceeds generated by the ARF Thrift Store and generous donations from the public.

What EMF Is

The ARF Emergency Medical Fund® program provides low cost, necessary veterinary care to qualified very low income pet guardians in Contra Costa County. The term “emergency” in “Emergency Medical Fund” refers to the financial crisis of a guardian unable to access affordable veterinary care for their sick or injured animal, not a medical emergency.

HUD Income Guidelines for Contra Costa County, California:

Limit Category
1 Person2 Persons3 Persons4 Persons5 Persons6 Persons7 Persons8 Persons
Very Low Income$51,800$59,200$66,600$73,950$79,900$85,800$91,700$97,650

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What EMF Is Not

  • EMF is not a substitute for your primary care veterinarian. You will need to continue basic and ongoing veterinary care with your regular veterinarian.
  • EMF is not a wellness program. We don’t see patients for routine annual exams, vaccines, flea/tick and heartworm preventative.
  • EMF is not free. Costs of service through EMF are greatly discounted thanks to our donors. Procedures are often ¼ the cost of those quoted in private practice. You will be expected to pay for services the day your pet receives them.
  • EMF does not provide specialty or emergency care. If the service needed falls into this category, an ARF representative will advise of other options.
  • EMF is not a pharmacy. We can provide most medication to start treatment for newly diagnosed conditions and support the procedures we perform. However ongoing medications need to be filled by your regular veterinarian.

How EMF Works

Pets are seen by appointment only. The clinic staff will collect a deposit fee of $30 at the time of scheduling your pet’s appointment that will be applied towards your appointment. You must be on time for your appointments. There is no guarantee you will be seen if you are late.

Our program can provide short term diagnostics and treatments, but does not have the capacity to provide long term, full-service veterinary care for patients and clients.

  • The maximum number of pets treated per client, per year is three
  • The maximum number of visits per pet, per year is three.

Once your pet has been stabilized, your pet will be released from the program and will need to follow up with their regular veterinarian. Medical records for care provided at our clinic can be copied and given to you to take to your regular veterinarian.

What to Expect from Your Appointment

During your initial appointment we will confirm that your pet is spayed or neutered. If a pet is not spayed or neutered at the time the application is submitted, we will schedule your pet’s surgery once medically cleared after their initial exam. The surgery is at a 50% discount for approved EMF clients.

We will make sure your pet is up to date on their rabies vaccination. All dogs and cats must be current on their rabies vaccination in order to receive treatment in the program. If the pet is not current on its rabies vaccine, one will be provided for a fee of $5. We do not provide any vaccines other than rabies through the EMF program.

Your pet will receive a full exam. A veterinarian will meet with client and patient to determine a diagnostic and treatment plan. The type of treatment needed by the pet must be medically necessary and non-elective. We do not provide cosmetic or elective procedures. Please bring all your pet’s previous records and vaccine history to your appointment or have them e-mailed or faxed in advance.

An estimate for the treatment plan will be provided. Estimates will already include EMF discounts on veterinary care. The remaining total cost will be the client’s responsibility.

Payment for diagnostic testing and/or procedures is required at the time of service. We are not obligated to provide payment plans or extend credit to clients. We do not accept Care Credit nor ScratchPay as forms for payment.

Scheduling for follow up procedures, diagnostics and recheck appointments. You may receive a treatment plan for your pet after the first exam. This will include the specific treatments, procedures, and diagnostics recommended by the veterinarian. Rechecks and follow up diagnostics are considered part of the three visit allowance whether your pet attends or not. If you are having trouble getting to a follow up appointment, please contact the clinic before your missed appointment or it will be counted as a “No Show.” We will collect a $25 deposit fee for a recheck appointment.

Once your pet’s medical concerns have been addressed, they will be released from the program. You will be provided with a summary of the veterinary care received at ARF and any recommendations for ongoing care. The veterinarian may provide you with a written prescription good for one year if your pet requires ongoing medications. Your pet will be allowed to return within the year if humane euthanasia is requested.


Any questions and concerns while your pet is part of the ARF Emergency Medical Fund® should directed to: [email protected] (“Attention: EMF”)

Additional Resources

We want to help families and pets stay together. If you need help, please check out these additional resources for low-cost veterinary care:

You Can Provide Care to the Pet of a Caregiver in Need

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Goliath receiving medical treatment


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