Nancy Wall can’t get a certain dog out of her mind.
It belonged to an acquaintance with whom she lost touch. She’s heard that the person lost her job, and the dog developed a painful infection and needed care the owner couldn’t afford.
That got Wall to wondering how many pets are suffering for the same reason. Wall, who lives in Tacoma, wanted to know if there was a way she could help.
“I guess my bottom line is, I’m retired. I don’t have a lot of money, but I would be willing to give to an organization if that money is going to these purposes,” she said. “What’s out there?”
The answer is: good veterinary clinics, and a few groups operating on limited means.
“There are always people who need help paying for their vet bills,” said Marguerite Richmond of the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County. “In the past, there have been resources here and there, but any time a resource pops up, it gets used up. Small groups have seen the need and raised the money, but the money can go really fast.”
The Humane Society doesn’t provide veterinary care beyond the animals brought in for adoption. But it is seeing the recession’s effects.
“I know our emergency food bank has a high demand,” Richmond said. “We keep putting out the call for food donations.”
They’re not choosy. They’ll take open bags of dry food or the canned food the cats snubbed.
They’ll also take unused pet medicines. They can use them for the animals in their care.
A surprising number of veterinarians do the same, as part of their effort to stretch care for low-income clients.
At River Road Animal Hospital in Puyallup, they’re happy to pass food donations on to the Seniors With Pets Food Bank.
People are contributing more lately to the collection jars on the counter, employees said. Anyone can also join the employees in giving to the slush fund they maintain for needy pets.
River Road has not turned a sick animal away, they said, but it can’t do it alone.
“There are a couple of groups around the area that do help out with financial stuff,” said employee Rosie Lettich. “We have lists of e-mails and numbers.”
She, like staff members at other clinics, declined to share the names of the groups. If we publicized them, she said, the groups would be inundated with more requests than they can handle. If you’d like to give to one, your vet can give you contact information.
Those groups can be lifesavers, said Karam Walia of Affordable Animal Hospital in Tacoma, so they call on them only when they must.
“In most cases, we will give someone an estimate and try to make it work with whatever means they have available,” Walia said.
That might mean relying on a medical opinion up front, rather than expensive tests.
“If things don’t clear up, then they’ll come in for the diagnostic,” Walia said.
It’s the same at All Creatures Animal Hospital in Puyallup.
“People are more cautious about spending the extra amounts on extra procedures and calling in specialists,” said assistant Bethany Gapsch.
Gapsch and Walia remind pet owners that money spent on vaccinations, spaying and neutering prevents expensive problems later.
That’s where the good news kicks in. Coalition: Humane offers reduced-price spaying, neutering and vaccines to low-income owners. For information on scheduling or donating, go to www.psnp.org or call 253-627-7729.
Noah’s Pet Project gives free vaccinations to the pets of low-income, senior and homeless people. Veterinarian Liane Sperlich of Brown’s Point Veterinary Clinic takes her skills and supplies to 601 N. Oakes St. from noon to 2 p.m. the second Saturday of the month. That’s today.
There are no appointments, said Lisa Dillon of the clinic, and there is no phone number. Simply show up and hope the donated supplies last.
Noah’s pets are always better off for gifts of cash, food, medicine, even used leashes, collars and beds.
“People bring them to us,” Dillon said. “It’s so sad sometimes, because they have lost their pets. But their animals are in heaven, thanking them for doing that.”
Kathleen Merryman: 253-597-8677