This black-and-white puppy was examined by veterinarian Dr. Melissa Stephens, from Paws for Hope Foundation. The puppy needed an exam and vaccines, as well as ear cleaning, at last fall’s clinic. (Langley Advance Times files)

Free animal clinic returns to Langley Sunday

A free service, for pet owners who are homeless or low income, is being offered at Gateway of Hope.

There will be four veterinarians and a bigger team of animal care professionals on hand at Gateway of Hope this weekend for Langley’s second ever free veterinary clinic for pets of homeless and low-income residents.

In a four-hour window, organizers expect to see literally dozens of different pets that need everything from vaccinations and exams, to deworming medication, flea treatments, and even care for slight skin conditions, ear infections, or nail clippings.

The idea for these free clinic came to life during the Langley Animal Protection Society’s 2017 Furry Tail Endings gala, when Langley’s Elizabeth Smith donated $25,000 to establish a legacy fund in honour of her late doberman, Major, explained shelter executive director Jayne Nelson.

That money was earmarked for efforts to ensure that “we keep people and their pets together, and that we are able to provide medical care and other basic necessities, like food, and leashes, collars, litter… we want to be able to provide those things to members of our community who are low income or homeless, because we know the value of pets in people’s lives,” Nelson said.

One of the direct results was the formation of these free clinics.

COVERAGE: Big turnout for Langley’s homeless pet clinic

The first session was held last fall at the local Gateway shelter, and organizers saw a much larger turnout than ever expected, Nelson admitted.

“It was crazy last time,” she elaborated, noting there was a line up of 20 people and pets waiting at the door before they opened.

“We saw 40 pets,” she said, noting that there were at least 11 local referrals for free followup visits to partnering vets, as well – for services such as surgeries, dental work, and more complex examinations.

Funding for any follow up veterinary care will again be paid for by Major’s Legacy Fund and Paws For Hope Foundation.

And in addition to those contributions and the donation of time by numerous volunteers, Paws for Hope has arranged for donations of necessary medications, Nelson noted. Plus, Langley’s True North Veterinary Diagnostics has come to the table this year with a donation of $3,000 worth of lab work.

Organizers are hoping to host the clinics at least twice a year, Nelson said.

“It will depend on need, and of course, our ability to fund it,” she elaborated, noting to date the clinics have used up about half of the legacy fund.

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Appointments recommended

Learning from last year, organizers are bringing in many more volunteers, including more vets, this time around.

“And, we’ll be set up to handle even more pets” than last fall, Nelson said. “We didn’t actually realize how big a need there was in our community, so we weren’t prepared for our first clinic for the amount of people who came. So, there were huge waits.”

While she described attendees as patient and understanding, organizers are hoping to eliminate the waiting times. And one way to achieve that is by asking participants to make an appointment by calling Gateway at 604-514-7375.

“We will be accepting walk-ins on the day, but hoping to minimize them,” Nelson said.

“We want to spread the work, so we can help as many people and pets as possible,” Nelson said, noting the majority of patients are expected to again be dogs and cats, but she’s also expecting to see a few other pets. Last year, they had rabbits, guinea pigs, and ferrets brought in.

This latest event is against being held at the Gateway of Hope shelter next to the Kwantlen Polytechnic University) on Sunday, March 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Those participating must have proof of low income, Nelson said.

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