Roxy and Diesel waited patiently for their turn to see the veterinarian, huddled together at their mom’s feet. Mom Roben had rescued the Pomeranian and long-hair Chihuahua from abusive situations, and promised them she’d always give them the love, care and medical attention they needed.
And so that afternoon at the Norwich Pet Wellness Clinic in the city-owned William A. Buckingham Memorial Building, they were ready for their appointment in the office-turned-exam room.
The pups were just two of the 398 pets who received free wellness and preventative care over the course of the clinic events, held by the Connecticut Humane Society monthly from May to October in 2017 to help pet parents in need. That’s everything from vaccines and nail trimmings, to weigh-ins, to heartworm tests and preventatives. Pet supplies like leashes and collars, as well as food, were handed out, and the Norwich City Clerk’s office provided dog licenses to city residents.
The clinic is just one CHS initiative focused on keeping pets in homes with families who love them and out of shelters. It's an important resource for those who can’t afford veterinary care: 17 percent of clients said their pet had never seen a veterinarian, and 65 percent agreed the greatest challenge of having a pet is the cost of medical care.
On each clinic day, CHS set up a temporary veterinary office in Buckingham’s basement, with a waiting room area, dog licensing station, exam preparation space (for weigh-ins and nail trims), and private exam room. CHS’ medical team and operations staff members, along with volunteers, all pitched in.
This was the second year for the program, which is funded in part by a grant from the Letz Fund for Animals and the Environment through the Community Foundation of Eastern CT (which also funded CHS’ recent two-day Animal Welfare University, a professional development program for animal control officers across the state). Other supporters of the 2017 program include the George A. & Grace L. Long Foundation, Charter Oak Federal Credit Union and Chelsea Groton Bank Foundation.
Pet parents who attended said it’s a relief to have access to free, quality care for pets they love so much, especially when they’re going through hard times.
“My pets are my life,” Roben said. “Their health is so important to me, of course. They had been abused before I got them, and they’re spoiled now. I want to show them not all people are bad.”
Cats, dogs, rabbits and even ferrets have come to the clinics over the past two years. This year, 181 pets received wellness exams from CHS veterinarians, who were also able to advise pet parents on any concerns they should address at a full veterinary appointment, like eye conditions, arthritis, or excess weight. And when clinic appointments were full, families who visited still received supplies and assistance—319 pets received nail trims, and 375 received flea and tick preventatives.
The amount of food distributed is staggering—nearly 26,000 pounds of dry food went to pets who came to the clinic and whose families need help filling their food bowls.
Community partners helped make the day possible: St. Vincent de Paul Place (Norwich), Norwich Animal Control, the Norwich city clerk's office, and the Norwich Human Services Department.
A third year of the Norwich Pet Wellness Clinic will kick off in spring 2018.