Smokey lets out a meow as he’s taken out of his cat carrier and lifted onto a scale for his weigh-in. “Mommy’s right here,” mom Dolores responds from a few feet away.
A Connecticut Humane Society veterinarian notes his weight (a little higher than she’d like it to be) and begins examining the black cat, who was adopted by Dolores when he was a kitten. She proceeds to give the now-6-year-old feline his updated shots, a nail trim, and even a quick dental check. Meanwhile, Dolores chooses a new, cozy bed for Smokey from a table of supplies nearby. “He’ll lay in this and watch TV. He likes cartoons because they’re fast!”
A few minutes later, a positive report: “His heart sounds good, his lungs sound good, and his teeth are good. I do recommend that he goes on diet though,” CHS staff veterinarian Dr. Delgado tells Dolores.
The bill for the exam and bed? $0.
It’s all part of CHS’ free Norwich Pet Wellness Clinic days. The program started up for 2018 in April and is in its third year. CHS runs the mobile clinics one day a month from April through the summer with a temporary veterinary office set-up. This first one of the year was held at the Rose City Senior Center and dedicated to senior citizens and their pets, while the rest of the clinic days are open to Norwich residents in need at a different municipal building. It’s all funded in part by grants from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut's Letz Fund for Animals and the Environment, the Chelsea Groton Bank Foundation, and the George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation.
Dolores’ apartment complex requires that Smokey is up to date on vaccinations, so the appointment was essential to both kitty’s care and her living arrangements. “Thank you for helping me with my boy there!” she told Dr. Delgado.
Many pet owners have trouble keeping up with veterinary costs. At times, they feel they have no choice but to surrender a beloved pet to a shelter. For CHS, the Norwich Pet Wellness Clinic is about making sure that doesn’t have to happen, so that pets can stay in homes that love them.
At April’s clinic, 36 pets belonging to 32 families got the care they needed, whether it was a full wellness check (24 pets), or just a nail trim (31 pets). Each pet got a long-lasting flea and tick collar, while 12 were tested for heartworm. A dozen dogs also got their dog license, thanks to CHS’ partnership with the Norwich City Clerk’s Office.
Leashes, collars, beds, cat carriers and other supplies were also distributed to families by CHS staff members running the clinic. And when Dr. Delgado found medical issues that owners should address further for their pets, CHS offered resources and recommendations for low-fee care.
The clinic days are a welcome relief to seniors on fixed incomes and families going through a tough time.
“Financially, it helps us, especially because where I live, they require Smokey to have his shots,” Dolores said. “When I heard about this program again this year, I was so pleased. When I came last year, they were so good with Smokey. He’s my best friend.”