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Groups partner to offer pet care at Open House Ministries in Vancouver

Cats and dogs without homes received free veterinary care Thursday during a pet wellness clinic at Open House Ministries. The faith-based homeless shelter provider partnered with WellHaven Pet Health and the Humane Society for Southwest Washington to offer the service.

Michael Cast brought his 10-year-old Chihuahua, Sammy, to the clinic after getting a flier about the event at the Vancouver Navigation Center. The pair are together 24/7, said Cast, who appreciated getting his dog’s nails trimmed.

Pets were examined and could receive vaccines, microchips, flea and tick and heartworm medication, and get their nails trimmed and ears cleaned. Ongoing pop-up clinics are part of the Humane Society’s effort to open an urgent care clinic for pets from low-income families, said Cheri Martin, director of shared services. The wellness clinics are held once monthly, alternating between Open House and the Navigation Center, and help the Humane Society learn what’s needed. In some cases, people can connect with veterinarians to address more serious medical issues.

“We seem to be able to work some magic to treat some other problems we see, too,” Martin said. “I just love talking to the people. They love their animals so much.”

Free pet food, harnesses, leashes, collars, sweaters and carriers were also up for grabs. The event was staffed by a mix of paid employees and trained volunteers. Working the wellness clinics is so popular, all of the volunteer slots are full through the end of the year.

Martin said holding the wellness clinics for three years is estimated to cost $204,000. A donor will fund $105,000 if the Humane Society can fundraise the remainder.

WellHaven Pet Health considers the partnership with the Humane Society “a win-win.”

“We want forever homes for happy pets and families,” said Bob Lester, chief medical officer at WellHaven.

Dina Hovde, spokeswoman for Open House, said pet clinics are an opportunity to outreach to the greater homeless community and build relationships with people in need. Former Open House residents were invited to the pet clinic, as well.

“It’s just a really good opportunity to use the space we were given,” said Hovde, referring to the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Family Resource Center. The building, which opened in 2018, was intended to be used by the community, not just Open House clients.

Open House previously hosted pet clinics at its annual block party and during Give More 24!, a regional day of giving.

Although Open House does not allow pets at its shelter, the pet clinics are one way to ease anxiety for unhoused and unsheltered people, Hovde said.


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