Statesman Journal October 26, 2009
A local program on Salem’s fringe has brought health and veterinary care to the pets of homeless people. The clinic offered free vaccinations and medication to the pets as part of an attempt to increase public health and provide care for animals whose owners can’t afford it.
Veterinarian Mark Stoenner of the Willamette Valley Animal Hospital in Keizer saw more than a dozen animals on Sunday. The makeshift clinic was a small building near Cascades Gateway Park – a Southeast camping area for the homeless and their pets. As their pets received health exams, their owners socialized, ate spaghetti and talked about their pets.
This is not the first time that Salem has held one of these clinics which is usually supplemented by a barbecue. They have been occurring monthly since May and are the result of teamwork by the Willamette Valley Animal Hospital, the Marion County animal shelter and Prodigal House Ministries, a non-profit organization.
The goal is to provide each pet with a health exam, vaccinations, and a full set of flea and deworming medications. They also spay and neuter the pets. Lending a helping hand to the homeless and their pets as well as promoting public safety is the two part benefit to these clinics. The outreach program which is fully supported by donations has treated over 80 pets owned by homeless people.
Many of the homeless in the Salem area avoid shelters because they don’t allow pets who they have become very attached to. The outreach program has shown a great deal of kindness for giving the pets of the homeless something just as important as the love of their owners.
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