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At the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic who’s healing who?

IMAGE: Larry Washington gives his little puppy, Rebound, a big kiss after her vet exam at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic in Seattle. Washington who is living in an apartment says he just got her two weeks ago from a friend whose dog had puppies. "Now," he says "I don't know what I'd do without her. I’m watching her every second of the day. She’s like my baby. (© Karen Ducey/ Animal News Northwest)
June 29, 2016
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Seattle- Deep in the gritty heart of Pioneer Square under the long shadow of glassy black skyscrapers and steel construction cranes in this growing metropolitan city, the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic performs a unique service every second and fourth Saturday of the month.

Funded by donors, the clinic offers free pet supplies, basic veterinary care and armfuls of compassion for people and their pets caught in the grip of homelessness or extremely low incomes (under $850 a month).

Talk to anyone there and you’ll hear how pets save human lives.

One man, so depressed he was going to jump out a window, credits a cat for saving his life. Now, 16 years later, and still the proud owner of Miss Kitty, Joe no longer wants to kill himself. He explains, “I had somebody to talk too.”

Like so many others without permanent homes coming to the clinic Joe had found companionship, something he lacked in everyday life.

 

IMAGE: Dr. Stan Coe speaks with Danny Price (right) about his dog Pepper, 9 years, and her skin condition. Price said “I got everything I need to keep her going a little while” including shampoos for her skin. He suspects her condition is caused by allergies from her food which has grain in it. “I tell ya, this place is the greatest,” Price said. Dr. Coe has been with the Doney clinic since it first opened their doors 30 years ago. (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

Dr. Stan Coe speaks with Danny Price (right) about his dog Pepper, 9 years, and her skin condition. Says Price, “I got everything I need to keep her going a little while.” He suspects her condition is caused by allergies from her food which has grain in it. “I tell ya, this place is the greatest,” he said. Dr. Coe has been with the Doney clinic since it first opened their doors 30 years ago. (photo © Karen Ducey / Animal News Northwest)

IMAGE: Over 50 pets and their owners wait in line on a sunny afternoon outside the Union Gospel Mission to be seen by veterinarians at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic in Seattle on Saturday June 25, 2016. Every second and fourth Saturday people currently experiencing homelessness and low-incomes can bring in their pets for general wellness exams and pick up pet food and supplies. (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

Over 100 pets and their owners wait in line outside the Union Gospel Mission anxious to be seen by veterinarians at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic in Seattle on Saturday June 25, 2016. Every second and fourth Saturday people currently experiencing homelessness and low-incomes can bring in their pets for general wellness exams and pick up pet food and supplies. (photo © Karen Ducey / Animal News Northwest)

On June 25th, the lively line outside the clinic, held in a small room inside the Union Gospel Mission, stretched down the block and around the corner. Within a stones’ throw reach of the bustling crowds and relentless traffic eager to get sports arenas, over a hundred people stood waiting.

Like a page out of Dr. Seuss’ “Go Dog Go,” there were little dogs and big dogs. Sitting dogs, sleeping dogs and dying-to-run dogs. Cats of all shapes and colors were held in an assortment of pet carriers, backpacks, strollers and on leashes. And people of all ages and backgrounds conversed with one another sharing pet tales and hard knock stories of life on the street, in shelters, temporary housing or crashing with friends.

Four volunteer veterinarians and twenty other volunteers, seven of whom are clients, were on hand to help check on 52 pets.

On this day, a hundred pets got food to take home but the clinic could’ve used more. “We actually ran out of dry dog and canned cat food!” says Jenny Shultz, the food bank manager at the clinic.

 

IMAGE: Isabella, a one-and-a-half year-old cat zipped in a pet carrier inside a stroller, waits in line to be seen by a veterinarian with her owner Victoria Lipska at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic. Lipska, currently living with her mother, is thrilled the clinic provided her with the stroller. She is visiting the clinic to get Isabella's nails trimmed and comes here as often as she can. (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

Isabella, a one-and-a-half year-old cat zipped in a pet carrier inside a stroller, waits in line to be seen by a veterinarian with her owner Victoria Lipska at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic. Lipska, currently living with her mother, is thrilled the clinic provided her with the stroller. She is visiting the clinic to get Isabella’s nails trimmed and comes here as often as she can. (photo © Karen Ducey / Animal News Northwest)

IMAGE: From left to right: Jazzari Watson, 7, Damari Thomas, 9, and his brother Romel Moore,6, hold Cha Cha, a nine-year old dog they met on line as they wait outside the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic in Seattle, WA on June 25, 2016. They are with their grandmother, Donna Young, and her cat, Kitty, who has blood in her urine to see a veterinarian. The family is currently living in an apartment. (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

From left to right: Jazzari Watson, 7, Damari Thomas, 9, and his brother Romel Moore,6, hold Cha Cha, a nine-year old dog they met on line as they wait outside the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic in Seattle, WA on June 25, 2016. They are with their grandmother, Donna Young, and her cat, Kitty, who has blood in her urine to see a veterinarian. The family is currently living in an apartment. (photo © Karen Ducey /Animal News Northwest)

Shultz estimates a lot of their clients are sleeping under underpasses or in tent cities. A lot are also staying in transitional housing.

While critics argue people who can’t take care of themselves shouldn’t own pets Shultz sees things differently. “These people love their pets. They wouldn’t wait outside, in the rain, cold or scorching heat, for hours on end to be seen by a vet if they didn’t love their pets. Just because they can’t take care of it, in the way that society has deemed appropriate, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have one. I’d rather help a low income or homeless person keep their pet than see that pet killed at a crowded shelter.”

IMAGE: Gizmo sleeps peacefully in the arms of Michael Rocker from Bellevue, Wash. as they wait in line to see a veterinarian at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic in Seattle on June 25, 2016. Rocker says he brings her here "to get pampered for the day." Rocker who is currently living with a friend says, “I don’t have much but if I can come here and get her spoiled, why not? She’s not my service dog, she’s my angel.” (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

Gizmo sleeps peacefully in the arms of Michael Rocker from Bellevue, Wash. as they wait in line to see a veterinarian at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic in Seattle on June 25, 2016. Rocker says he brings her here “to get pampered for the day.” Rocker who is currently living with a friend says, “I don’t have much but if I can come here and get her spoiled, why not?” and adds “She’s not my service dog, she’s my angel.” (photo © Karen Ducey /Animal News Northwest)

IMAGE: Isabella, a one-and-a-half year-old cat is unzipped from her pet carrier and seen by a veterinarian with her owner Victoria Lipska at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic. (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

Isabella, a one-and-a-half year-old cat is unzipped from her pet carrier and seen by a veterinarian with her owner Victoria Lipska at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic. (photo © Karen Ducey /Animal News Northwest)

A few animals had somewhat urgent injuries. A cat named Tuna Breath had swallowed a nylon toy and had a foot long thread coming out of its mouth. Pepper, a 9-year-old Staffordshire Terrier, had a severe skin condition over its whole body. The majority of pets however came in for general checkups.

Others like Gizmo come here “to get pampered for the day.” Rocker, who is currently living with a friend, says, “I don’t have much but if I can come here and get her spoiled, why not?”

Shultz says the clinic is starting to get an influx of people who don’t want to spay and neuter their pets. The veterinarians will see them the first time but requires pets to be spayed and neutered to see them again. The clinic will provide a free certificate to get their pet spayed or neutered at the Seattle Animal Shelter. Shultz estimates some of these owners want to sell the litters. “We’re having to turn them away,” she says.

“You can’t overlook the fact that the human/animal bond is measurable,” says Shultz. “Studies have proven it time and again. With homelessness comes mental illness and depression. Some of these people are able to stay clean, or sober, or just alive, because they’ve made a commitment to a pet; because they feel needed by this animal and don’t want to let it down. That’s something. There’s hope in that feeling, and maybe a way forward.”

IMAGE: Dr. Tomika Haller (left) and Dr. Heather Fowler (center), check Chi Chi's veterinary record at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic. Chi Chi's owner Esmeralda Franco (right) from Seattle brought her in because Chi Chi had a litter of two puppies, both of which died. Fowler has been volunteering at the clinic for two years and sees it as a way to give back to the community and maintain her clinical skills. (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

Dr. Tomika Haller (left) and Dr. Heather Fowler (center), check Chi Chi’s veterinary record at the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic. Chi Chi’s owner Esmeralda Franco (right) from Seattle brought her in because Chi Chi had a litter of two puppies, both of which died. Fowler has been volunteering at the clinic for two years and sees it as a way to give back to the community and maintain her clinical skills. (photo © Karen Ducey /Animal News Northwest)

 

Want to help? The clinic needs new or barely used pet collars, leashes, and canned dog and cat food. Volunteers are also needed to help out on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. http://doneyclinic.org/donate–get-involved.html


 

Reporter Karen Ducey can be reached at: karen@animalsnorthwest.com. Twitter @karenducey

All photos and text are © Karen Ducey and Animal Northwest Network, SPC unless otherwise indicated. This article or photos cannot be reproduced without prior permission, wholly or in part. Direct links and cross posts are appreciated.

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