Arizona Animal Welfare League is making veterinary care affordable for pet parents with low cost spay/neuter and vaccination clinics.
Low cost spay/neuter and vaccination clinics served pet owners in the Phoenix area for years. However, affordable veterinary care remained scarce until the spring of 2011 when the Arizona Animal Welfare League (AAWL), Arizona’s largest no-kill shelter, opened the Pet Med Clinic.
Pet Med started with once weekly service. With word of mouth advertising only, clinic staff treated around 1,000 pets during the first nine months that had a variety of ailments, such as fungal infections, broken limbs, tumors, and Valley fever.
An earlier client was Missy, a spayed feral cat living in a colony near a Phoenix hotel. Staff workers pooled their resources to pay for Missy’s surgery to repair her broken leg. The clinic became so popular that Pet Med eventually expanded to four days a week, says Patti DuBois, director of shelter operations. During 2013, 4,000 pets were treated at the clinic.
“AAWL is happy to offer quality pet care to those who cannot afford it,” says Judith Gardner, president and CEO. “Many customers say they relinquish or even put down their pets without our services. By offering Pet Med, we keep more animals out of the shelter system and in their homes where they belong.”
Take the case of Missy, a 12 year old dog as an example. The aging Border Collie was in pain with decaying teeth, needing seven extractions and a cleaning. Her elderly owners could not afford the quoted price of $1,000. According to DuBois, Missy’s dental issues were treated for around half that price. Overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation, her owners were able to keep Missy. They said the service was excellent.
Veterinary services are limited. Overnight stays are not possible. Pet owners must have appointments. Payment is expected at the time of each visit but a fee schedule applies. Cosmetic surgical procedures are not performed, such as tail docking or de-clawing. But a wide range of veterinary service are available to low-income pet owners.
Pet Med recently designed the Best Buddy program for people who adopt from the shelter. New owners receive free pet health insurance for the first 30 days. A veterinary technician is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to answer questions about pet behavior, health, etc.
The calls range from mild to serious, and sometimes amusing. A first time cat owner called with questions. “My cat is making strange noises,” she said. During the conversation the technician asked if the cat was making the troublesome sounds. “Yes,” the woman said. “Please put the cat near the phone,” asked the technician. The cat was purring. The woman had never heard a cat purr before.
Once every three weeks, a low cost vaccination clinic is scheduled offering preventive vaccines to cats and dogs as well as rabies shots, required for dogs to be licensed in Maricopa County.
Pet Med is funded through generous private donations, grants and fees for service. Donations are always welcomed. Five full-time employees staff the clinic. Volunteers under supervision assist with animal care, clerical and other duties. For more information about the shelter and Pet Med, please visit www.aawl.org