|Our first Wellness Clinic was a huge success
There is a population in our city of low-income pet owners that want to do right by their pets but simply cannot afford the luxury of vet care, especially non-urgent routine things like vaccinations and wormings. Some of these animals have never received protection against common diseases, and for some it simply fell by the wayside as the economy tanked. We wanted to do something to help these animals and their owners and decided to hold our first Wellness Clinic.
Together with Forgotten Felines, we targeted one of the mobile home parks that for years has been a steady source of incoming animals to the shelter. We know there are lots of free-roaming and feral cats in this park and lots of people feeding them. The trick would be to see if we could find out who they are so we could offer services to support their work and reduce the cat population. With spay and neuter as our primary goal, and our “No More Lost Pet” campaign as our secondary goal, we decided to see if we could lure some of the more responsible animal people to our event. We offered a free health exam, free vaccinations, free de-wormer, free flea control products, free microchips, free pet ID tags, on site sign-ups for our free cat spays/neuter, free nail trims and food (figured if all else fails, everyone has to eat and how often do you get offered a free meal?).
In spite of that, we weren’t sure what kind of turnout to expect. Guesses ranged anywhere from three people to 100. My vet tech and I had gone to observe a similar clinic put on by an organization called “Compassion Without Borders” that targets the Hispanic communities in Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Napa. They had more than 100 animals at that one, with people willing to wait a couple of hours (on a hot day) in order to get what was being offered for the pets they loved. We lined up a veterinarian willing to donate his services (thank you Dr. Roger Klein), a team of vet techs and experienced veterinary assistants, a professional groomer who offered the nail trims (thank you Cathy Davis, muddy paws…), some bilingual volunteers to help with translating and a lot more hard working volunteers to set it all up and run the various booths. It took a small army of people to pull this thing off.
Of course, we have to thank the Animal Shelter League for funding this venture. It certainly was not in the shelter’s budget to do a project like this and giving all these things away for free does cost a tidy penny. We also thank the management of the Rancho Verde Mobile Home Park for allowing us to come and host this event and to Debbie Lucchessi, a park resident and passionate cat lover, for her help handing out flyers to every single resident of the park, not once, but twice so everyone would be sure to know about it.
Last Saturday was the big day and it was a huge success. We saw 69 animals and had to turn some away or we would have never been able to leave. People brought their pets and waited in line for up to an hour and a half for the chance to have them looked at by a veterinarian and to receive the shots and other services needed. We had quite a production line going – with health exams in one spot and vaccines, wormer, microchip and simple treatments in another, nail trims at a separate station and our tag machine and literature at yet another.
It was a long day and our poor vet never had a chance to take even a short lunch break. He examined and chatted with every owner of the 69 pets seen that day – explaining over and over again about the need for good flea control, why spay/neuter is so important, and how dental care could extend their pets life. We heard over and over again big, heartfelt thank you’s and that made it all worthwhile. That and knowing that 69 animals were protected from distemper, parvo and fleas, had a microchip in case they became lost, and 12 were scheduled for our fix-it clinic on the spot with the clinic’s phone number distributed to many more.
It was a fulfilling day and one that we hope to repeat at other hot-spots in our city. Donations to the ASL will help to fund these clinics on an on-going basis. Our goal is to continue being pro-active and community-oriented.
Kidz ‘n Critters Summer Camp is happening. There are still a few slots left for kids going into grades 2-7. Check out more information online at www.rpanimalshelter.org or by stopping by the shelter.,
• No More Lost Pets: Free microchips and pet ID tags are available for residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one. The shelter is open Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 1-5:30 p.m. and Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.