For people in underserved communities, access to veterinary care is a major challenge. Often, even the lowest cost option available is out of reach. Rochester Animal Services’ Pets for Life (PFL) program is addressing this lack of accessibility by providing free veterinary care, services and information to help keep pets happy and healthy in the homes they already have.
A program of The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS), the Pets for Life philosophy promotes the understanding that a lack of financial means does not equate to a lack of love felt for and provided to a pet. Everyone’s lives can be enhanced by a pet, and those who choose to should have the opportunity to experience the unconditional love and meaningful relationship a pet brings.
Below, Amy Bianchi, Rochester Animal Services Outreach Coordinator, shares a recent experience building a relationship with a City of Rochester pet owner.
During a door-to-door outreach day with volunteer Gretchen, we met Lynn, her family and Lola, a feisty 4-year-old, chocolate Chihuahua. Lynn invited us in so we could talk with her about PFL services available. I told Lynn we would schedule an appointment, transport Lola to the veterinary clinic, provide spay surgery, any needed vaccines, microchip, deworming and flea control, and return Lola the same evening. Lynn couldn’t believe we were offering all this for free; what was the catch? She was skeptical about who we were and worried we were trying to take Lola away from her. I gave her my business card and handed her my ID card, and sat and talked with Lynn and her family for over an hour. Finally, Lynn agreed. However, when I began sharing the information about transporting Lola to the clinic, Lynn put the breaks on again. I told Lynn that if it made her more comfortable, she could take Lola to the appointment herself. She agreed.
A week before Lola’s surgery date, I called Lynn to touch base and answer any questions she might have. She had a few questions related to the surgery and aftercare, which I answered. She mentioned she didn’t have a leash or collar for Lola and was concerned about fleas. I stopped over the next day and brought her a new pink collar and leash, and some flea meds. I went over the day-of-surgery instructions again and confirmed she wanted to transport Lola herself.
I called the night before surgery to remind Lynn about the appointment. She said she was having some medical issues and asked if I would be able to transport in the morning. I said, absolutely! At the morning pick-up, Lynn’s whole family came out to put Lola into the Rochester Animal Services van and made me promise to bring her home safely that night.
Everything went well with Lola’s surgery. Lynn and her family squealed at the sight of me returning Lola to them in a cute, new dress. I got hugs from everyone and a kiss from Lola. An existing bond had been strengthened and a new bond had formed.