We spent our Valentine’s Day spreading the love the best way we know how: By holding a clinic that offered free spay and neuter, vaccinations, microchips and so much more to over 200 cats and dogs. This February 14th clinic, held at Gilbert Lindsay park, was our busiest clinic yet. After teams of DDR volunteers went door to door to pass out flyers over two consecutive Saturdays, the message got out to families with pets who live in 90011, and the message began to spread. We decided to focus our efforts on 90011 because the average income there is less than $30,000 per year, more than 60% of the residents rent their home, and it’s a very dense area with a population of more than 100,000 people. There are a lot of dogs and zero animal hospitals located in the immediate vicinity. Many homeless people live in the park, and many people have no transportation other than the bus, which does not allow dogs or cats on board. Getting help for pets is scarce.

 

There were so many highlights at this clinic, so many wins. Seeing all the families who brought back their puppies for their next round of vaccinations. The exams we offered right on the spot where doctors explained how to care for various types of chronic medical issues also brought us much joy, as it provided each pet a more compassionate and humane existence. Plus our spay and neuter sign up sheet got so full, it looks like we’ll be booking our next free clinic on Sunday, March 13th! Parvo, DHPP and rabies vaccinations were given to all dogs over four months old, and puppies weeks and older received their boosters and worming medicine. Every pet received free flea and tick treatment thanks to a donation from the manufacturer of Frontline. In that vein, we also appreciate everyone who donated hundreds of pounds of dog food as almost every family went home with a big bag of kibble or a case of canned food. There were collars and leashes for those who needed, and we were there for the cats as well.

The park staff was incredibly supportive, allowing us to hang up two banners in the park near the basketball courts and soccer field. Flyers hanging in the recreation room also helped get the word out. It was incredible to watch a line forming so long, we had to cut it off an hour before the clinic was scheduled to shut down just to manage volume. Our SCVMA volunteer vets and vet techs were amazing and generous with their time, as always. The fact is that without their support these free clinics would not be possible. Adding to the stellar team, Amanda, our Shelter Intervention Program counselor, set up her table right at the park, positioning herself to give further assistance to families with pets needing a further hand. We were able to help several serious medical issues, including a very large hernia on a very small Chihuahua.

We also hired a community groomer – Willy’s Grooming – to groom matted and tangled poodles and terriers. To watch families delight in how beautiful their dogs looked after a bath, and to have the opportunity to explain what had to be done to keep their dogs well groomed, made us very grateful that we’d expanded out clinic to include grooming. It proved more important than imagined since we see so many long haired dogs, and people often don’t know where to go or what is necessary for the dog’s well being.

The incomparable trainer Larry Hill and his assistant Basilos Thomas were also there. They wrangled some very powerful dogs who were challenging to handle so that we could vaccinate them, and shared hours of dog training tips. Everyone learned about Larry’s weekly class, providing ongoing support for owners needing guidance for their dog while encouraging bonding.

So that was our Valentine’s Day, and it was the perfect way to spend it. We turned no one who arrived before 10:00AM away, and a few hundreds pets, and the families who love them, were served. We’re in the park again on the second Sunday of this month, and we’re eager to help even more. And after that clinic, we’ll go home happy, and plan our next one, whether it’s a holiday or a regular ol’ weekend. Our hearts remain ready to keep at it and to do our work again and again.