Sharing Help and Hope for Seattle Pet Owners in Need
By: Tamra Strentz
While the annual Seattle/King County Clinic is known for providing a full range of free dental, vision and medical care to more than 4,000 under-served and vulnerable people in the region, a Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF) grant was also hard at work. It allowed the Seattle Animal Shelter to serve as a bronze sponsor and provide care for pets and help pet owners during the 4-day clinic. It was also the first year SAS was able to provide free pet licenses.
Led by the Seattle Animal Shelter’s Veterinary Technician Traci Garcia, 22 SAS staff provided pet care and sitting at SAS’s Pet Hospitality Tent as well as manned an information/support table inside the clinic. The Pet Hospitality area was opened from 4:30 am – 6 pm over the course of four days so patients could receive treatment without bringing their pets in to the treatment area or worrying about their care. Twelve animals stayed at the hospitality tent, but many more owners were supported by the information table.Thanks to a SASF grant, Garcia and other SAS staff were able to provide 80 free, new pet licenses for Seattle residents as well as spay/neuter vouchers and supplies including leashes, collars and food, with more than 550 pounds given to pet owners in need.
On the first day of the clinic, the first animal guest was an intact female pitbull cared for by a homeless clinic patron, and her owner received a free one year pet license, free spay certificate, free collar and leash.‘’We also saw return visitors this year and had two dogs who stayed with us for three of the four clinic days, just like they did last year. The pet owners are so appreciative and it’s reassuring for them to know they can have support for their pets,’’ said Traci Garcia.Introducing the Pet Hospitality service to clinic patrons is very rewarding and it gives peace of mind to the owner and pet.
‘’We met a gentleman this year with a Jack Russell Terrier and he told us that last year, he took the dog into the treatment area with him and it was very stressful for his dog, but he felt he had no other option. Once he learned of the SAS Pet Hospitality tent this year, he did not hesitate leaving his beloved dog in the care of the SAS team,’’ said Garcia. The next day, he returned with his JRT and his other dog; both received collars, leashes and delicious food. The owner was relieved he could receive his care and know his pets were cared for in a safe, warm space.‘’Garcia added, ‘’Running the Pet Hospitality tent is a great opportunity to build trust between the community and shelter. Half of our SAS staffers this year were field officers, and it was nice for them to be able to work with people in such a positive environment where our work was appreciated and folks were happy to see us.’’
2016 marked the 3rd year of SAS participation at the clinic and the team looks forward to next year, thanks to grant support from the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation.