12 year old Stormy’s elderly and ill person, who is currently unhoused, came to the Harbor Shelter, pleading for help. Stormy was recently diagnosed with diabetes. She has not wanted to eat or stand up for the last week. Her quality of life had declined rapidly. Our shelter intervention program manager, Amanda listened to Stormy’s person tell her how much she had gone through over the past few weeks. Being very ill, recovering from a major surgery, getting the news that Stormy was sick hit her hard. Watching Stormy suffer daily, was too much. With the little money she had after paying for the diagnosis, she decided that humane euthanasia was the best option. However, the animal hospital where she went would not euthanize Stormy because they told her that “She didn’t try everything” First, she couldn’t afford to try everything, the hospital didn’t offer to treat Stormy for free or give her resources for low cost, which pretty much don’t exist. So she drove around with Stormy getting sicker each day. With no other options, she arrived at the Harbor Shelter, and instead of surrendering Stormy, we offered to send her to a partner animal hospital where she could hold Stormy, and have her cremated. This was her only companion for the past twelve years.
Imagine knowing that your pet is slowly dying, is suffering, and because you can’t afford veterinary care, you helplessly watch, or surrender your pet to a shelter. No one should have to make that type of decision, especially someone who is unhoused and seriously ill. Yet, everyday, low income families with pets bring them to the shelter to surrender them because they cannot access affordable veterinary care. We have counselors at the South LA Shelter and the Harbor Shelter to meet people with pets who are in crisis, need some type of support or resources, access to spay and neuter, and provide ongoing, long term support through our Pet Support Space.
Because we have so many low income people in need of basic veterinary care for their pet cats, we created “Cat Box Clinic”, which is a clinic in a rented contractor’s office.
At a cost of $450 per month, the container was delivered fully finished with flooring, shades, lights, and air conditioning. Next, we partnered with an awesome veterinarian and RVT who are helping us every step of the way, telling us what equipment and supplies to order. Our goal will be to see patients one evening per week from 5PM – 9PM by appointment only. No emergencies, no surgeries, we will focus on treating chronic suffering from skin and ear infections, conditions like mange or ringworm. We will offer vaccinations and microchipping, as well as health exams. All services will be provided on a sliding scale from free to low cost, by donations from the families who use our services. Whether they can afford to donate $1 or $20, no one will be turned away due to a lack of ability to pay for care. This clinic is a small step towards potentially scaling the clinic up to multiple locations and / or offering more extensive services to people with pet cats who live in the South Los Angeles area. Currently, we do not have a grant or a major funder for this pilot project. We will rely on the community to support us, and YOU, who is committed to systemic change for people with pets. Please consider making a donation today