The need was there. Thirty-five volunteers stepped up to the plate. And now hundreds of pets are thanking them.
In 2010, Ruff Start Rescue was opened in Princeton, MN, a small community where there were limited resources. “Soon after opening, I realized we not only needed to provide refuge to homeless pets, we also needed to assist owners in trying to keep pets out of the shelter and rescue system and remain in their homes,” says Azure, executive director of Ruff Start Rescue.
So in 2011, Azure along with volunteers and staff at the rescue had an idea. They teamed up with a local veterinarian’s office to create an event that would change the lives of hundreds of animals in just a few hours. “A common reason for animals to be surrendered into our care is that owners can’t afford veterinary care. We wanted to create an opportunity for the community to receive preventative veterinary services for their pets at a minimal cost and so the Wellness Clinic was developed,” says Azure.
The clinic set up in the civic building of a neighboring community that only has a population of about 5,000 people. “We offered lower cost vaccinations, microchipping, nail trims and testing for certain illnesses such as heartworm. The response from the community was amazing!” says Jenna, development director for the rescue.
In the first few years of the event, around 200 to 300 pet owners from around the area showed up with their cats and dogs. But in 2017, the event increased exponentially from the previous year. “We cared for more than 530 animals in a seven-hour period of time. We were blown away by the response!” Jenna recalls.
Over the years, there have been animals at the event that test positive for heartworm or other tick-borne illnesses. Those working at the Wellness Clinic feel good knowing they helped uncover a medical condition that could have gotten a lot worse. “When a pet tests positive, at that point we direct them back to their regular vet office for treatment. It’s a good feeling to know that we helped this animal get on the path to better health,” says Jenna.
The event is used as both a fundraiser and an outreach opportunity for the rescue. “The purchase of veterinary supplies is a substantial cost for this event, but we are grateful to the volunteers and our veterinary partner who donate their time to ensure this event is successful. The money for supplies comes from donations, business sponsors and adoption fees we collect throughout the year,” Jenna says.
While the event is a lot of work to organize, Jenna and the other volunteers know that providing these services to pet owners allows many people to have a pet who might otherwise not be able to afford it. “We now hold the event every April and we have people come back year after year who tell us they love to participate and they truly appreciate the service we provide,” Jenna adds.
Share Your Finding Forever
In our series, Finding Forever, we are highlighting YOU and the work you do to help animals find the right forever home. We know that a dog or cat can’t say thank you, so we want to showcase the hard work you do. And while at times it can feel frustrating and stressful, it’s important to remember you are not alone and what you are doing is valuable. When we share our knowledge and passion with each other, we can all be on the winning team.
If you have a Finding Forever story to share, we would love to hear it! Email us.
Want help solving tough pet health problems? Call one of our Pet Care Pros today at 800.786.4751.