In today’s trying economic times, tight budgets have added an obstacle to caring for our beloved pets. According to the latest consumer price index, the cost of pet products and services is up by more than 9% year over year. Due to rising costs, people are forced to choose between meeting their own needs and the needs of their pets, and Larimer Humane Society feels that no family should ever have to face this decision. To help keep pets and people together, , we were thrilled to support Animal Friends Alliance in offering a Healthy Pets Clinic to an under-resourced community in Fort Collins. The clinic provided people and their pets with complimentary pet services, supplies, and veterinary expertise.

On Saturday, April 22, Animal Friends Alliance and Larimer Humane Society came together to care for the pets in Harmony Village, a residential community in Fort Collins. Veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, and many volunteers transformed the clubhouse at Harmony Village into a free remote pet clinic.

“With the weather being overcast and rainy, we were anticipating a slow day,” said Dr. Garcia, Supervising Veterinarian, DVM at Larimer Humane Society, and volunteer at Healthy Pets Clinic. “It was anything but that,” laughed Dr. Garcia. With the clinic set to open at 10:00, residents started forming a line at 9:15. With the clinic scheduled to close at 2:00, there were so many residents and their pets waiting to see a veterinarian that the event did not end until 5:00. “We saw around 123 animals in total,” said Dr. Garcia.

Offering vaccinations, healthy check-ups, microchips, spay and neuter surgeries (scheduled for another day), and a variety of pet food and supplies, this year’s Healthy Pets Clinic served 123 pets that may have otherwise gone without care. “It was so amazing to see people who love their pets, and want to do the right thing for them, come to the clinic,” said one of the event’s volunteers. Along with free services and supplies, the veterinarians handed out a variety of informational sheets pertaining to pet wellness. From heart murmur aftercare to your dog experiencing separation anxiety, all visitors were equipped with knowledge and guidance depending on which topic(s) their pet related to most. “Almost everybody left with a stack of handouts and literature,” said Dr. Garcia.

Amidst the busy remote clinic and eager residents to help their pets, one dog in particular, Jezebel, needed immediate care. “A little, white dog was in the lobby sitting perfectly still in her owner’s lap, when all of a sudden it started screeching and yelping very loudly,” said Dr. Garcia. The owner, startled and panicked, brought her dog up to the table where Dr. Garcia was stationed and looked at her with wide eyes. Dr. Garcia quickly examined Jezebel for symptoms and noticed that she had stepped into the metal clasp of her owner’s purse. “The clasp had attached to the dog’s Achilles tendon,” Dr. Garcia said. “We needed to cut the purse strap in order to relieve pressure from the clasp.” Within minutes, the clinic went into “all hands on deck” mode to help this poor little pup who was screeching in pain.

Working around a language barrier, Dr. Garcia used body language and gestures to ask the owner if she could cut her purse. “Si, si” the owner said nodding her head enthusiastically. Dr. Garcia cut the strap and that helped loosen the clasp stuck on the dog, but it still had a grasp on the Achilles tendon. Using a pliers, she carefully pried the clasp apart and off the dog’s leg. “It was an intense moment,” said Dr. Garcia. “At first, I thought I would need to send them to the ER, but we were able to remove the metal clip without causing further damage to the dog’s leg.” Jezebel’s leg was freed from the purse trap and only a small bruise could be seen, no tearing of the skin or long-term injury. “We were pretty fortunate, the clasp was on there pretty good,” said Dr. Garcia. After being well cared for and making a few friends, Jezebel was back to sitting quietly in her mama’s lap.

Jezebel was one of 123 pets that received complimentary care that day. “We hope that events like these helps build trust in the veterinary and rescue community,” said Dr. Garcia. “That we’re really here to help – not judge – and to provide care to their animals.”