With requests to collect stray and unwanted animals growing throughout the pandemic, the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County opened a low-cost veterinary clinic in 2021. The venture was supported by 450,000 $ from the county government, with another $250,000 on the way.
The quarter-million-dollar grant was announced Monday afternoon as a way to continue providing accessible care for pets, such as vaccination services, neutering and neutering surgeries and checkups. welfare, for pet owners receiving government assistance of any kind.
The clinic currently employs two veterinarians and all veterinary clinic staff, according to Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County executive director Ellen Zahariadis. She also said the clinic has been almost fully booked since it opened last year.
The announcement was made at the Shelby County Government’s Pet Adoption Awareness Event, in an effort to reduce the number of pets that have to be given up due to financial hardship and promote adoptions.
“[The grant] helps us tremendously,” said Ellen Zahariadis, executive director of the Humane Society. “Because it helps offset the costs so we can continue to operate this program. And by doing so, we are able to ensure that all types of fees we charge remain very low so that we can help our community. »
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The grant, sponsored by Commissioner Michael Whaley, was presented at the county commission’s budget committee meeting on May 18 and passed unanimously. The resolution was also passed during the consent agenda for the May 23 county commission meeting.
“I think the grant accomplishes several things. It makes owning a pet a reality, knowing that that care is available, even if you can’t afford the full price,” Whaley said. “But I think that in itself would help us with the large population of stray dogs and cats that we have – that the Humane Society and other shelters are often full of pets looking for families to adopt them. And I think that would potentially help encourage families to adopt who previously couldn’t because of the financial barrier eased by this resource.”
Although this is a one-time grant, Whaley said he would not object to sponsoring another in the future.
“If they needed it, I would plead for [another grant]”, he said. “So I would definitely be one of the advocates that it would be a good partnership to continue between the Humane Society of Shelby County because it’s a vital community service. Just like a lot of other things that we do, it’s definitely something that I think could potentially have a very strong positive impact on quality of life and just quality of neighborhoods.”
So far, Zahariadis believes the partnership and the clinic have been successful in encouraging adoptions and keeping pets in loving homes, even when financial stressors loom.
“I think the fact that we’re able to help pet owners keep their pets in their homes, keep them healthy, and provide alternatives when they’re dealing with very high vet bills , and knowing that they can come to us – and that doesn’t mean they have to choose between providing food for their family that month or that week and being able to continue to care for their animal – I think it has made all the difference in the world for these people,” she said. . “It has been heartbreaking to see, especially during these difficult times of the pandemic, that people feel like they have had to abandon their mate in life because they needed help. And we were able to help them keep those animals and keep that emotional safety net that they have with their pets.”
Lucas Finton is a journalist at The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @LucasFinton.