With contributions from PetSmart Charities Roving Reporter, Shannon Bowen
The scene is bleak in some areas of Los Angeles, where there are more homeless pets than any other city in America. Cats and dogs roam the streets — but, increasingly, they’re not alone.
In many neighborhoods, free pet clinics stand alongside those homeless pets.
Filling a neighborhood need
One of these clinics is operated by The Amanda Foundation, which also runs the only nonprofit veterinary hospital in Los Angeles.
The Amanda Foundation, like many animal welfare organizations across the country, has offered a mobile spay/neuter clinic for years. But they saw that their community needed more.
“People would come to our spay/neuter clinic with a need for veterinary services, and we wouldn’t be able to treat them there,” said Teri Austin, President of The Amanda Foundation. “We saw an opportunity to raise the bar for pet care while also preventing pets from being relinquished to shelters. One of the main reasons that people give up their pets is because of their medical needs, so we wanted to meet those needs in their neighborhoods.”
Rethinking the clinic
The Amanda Foundation began experimenting with “pop-up” wellness clinics for cats and dogs, where the team set up temporary, free clinics in well-known, accessible locations. The new initiative required innovative thinking — figuring out how to set up a dental exam table in a hallway and organize a group of 20 veterinary school volunteers, for example.
It also required specialized equipment, which the foundation was able to purchase thanks to a $120,000 PetSmart Charities™ grant. The grant initially covered the cost of a portable x-ray machine, but thanks to Teri’s keen negotiation skills, she was able to purchase both a top-of-the-line portable x-ray machine and a portable blood analyzer.
“Before, we would have had to send the patient back to our veterinary hospital for x-rays and bloodwork,” Teri said. “Having this equipment in the field is huge, because now we can come right to them. That puts less stress on the pet, costs us less money and requires less of my staff’s time.”
The pop-up clinics attract a wide variety of pet parents, each of whom is grateful for the opportunity to access pet care in an affordable, convenient way. Here are some of their stories.