Pet guardians with limited financial means have had few options when the pets they love become ill, have life-threatening injuries or need annual examinations and associated vaccinations. Access to low-cost, high-quality veterinary care is on the horizon with the Richmond SPCA’s March 5 opening of its Clinic for Compassionate Care.
According to a study conducted by Alan Newman Research in 2010, more than one third of households making less than $60,000 a year cannot afford unexpected veterinary expenses, and more than half of these families are worried that they cannot pay their pets’ medical bills. Pets belonging to low-income families are nearly 28% less likely to receive annual checkups, and cost is the biggest reason guardians cite for skipping these crucial visits. Additionally, more than 50 percent of low-income families have foregone veterinary care, surrendered a pet or euthanized a pet because of unaffordable expenses associated with treatment.
The Clinic for Compassionate Care will be the first ever low-cost, full-service veterinary clinic serving pets of low-income guardians in the Richmond region. Services will also be available for homeless pets in the care of government animal control shelters, to pets adopted from the Richmond SPCA on or after March 5, to pets referred by other veterinary practices due to their owners’ inability to pay regular prices for treatment, and to pets of Richmond SPCA employees.
“The Richmond SPCA has always been on the forefront of positive change for animals since our founding in 1891. Our Smoky’s Spay/Neuter Clinic led the way in 2004, providing high-volume, free and low-cost sterilization for dogs and cats in the Richmond region,” said Robin Robertson Starr, chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA.
“For several years, we have operated a Wellness Clinic, providing preventative care and vaccinations, but we continue to see that full-service, high-quality veterinary care is desperately needed by companion animals whose guardians simply cannot afford to provide it,” said Starr.
Details about qualifying to become a client of the Clinic for Compassionate Care are available online at www.richmondspca.org/clinic. The clinic’s reception office will begin taking calls on Feb. 27, and clients can schedule appointments by calling 804-521-1330. Services are available by appointment on a primarily outpatient basis and include general and preventative healthcare, dentistry, routine surgery, geriatric care, dietary management, in-house laboratory and radiology services, microchipping, and puppy and kitten care. The clinic, located within the Robins-Starr Humane Center at 2519 Hermitage Road, will see clients Monday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Hours will expand, beginning April 7, to include 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Smoky’s Spay/Neuter Clinic will continue to provide sterilization surgeries for pets awaiting adoption at the Richmond SPCA, for feral cats, for pets adopted from other area shelters and for pets whose guardians qualify as clients of the Clinic for Compassionate Care. Feral cat caregivers who perform Trap-Neuter-Return continue to rely upon the Richmond SPCA as the community’s only provider of no-charge sterilization, examination and rabies vaccinations for feral cats.