A new clinic offers veterinary services to low-income pet owners. Photo by Rodney Margison

BY JULIE GRAY

Soon after it began operating a low-cost veterinary clinic out of its 700-square-foot
administrative offices on South Walnut Street, the Monroe County Humane Association (MCHA) realized the need for services was greater than anticipated. Meeting with low-income clients and their pets two days per month began in March 2016. By September, demand was such that services were being offered eight times a month. That’s when the MCHA knew it needed a dedicated space for low-cost veterinary services.

In November, the organization opened the Nonprofit Veterinary Clinic & Outreach Center, located in Ellettsville, just northwest of Bloomington, at 4635 W. Richland Plaza Drive. The center houses a minor medical veterinary clinic, education center, community cat program, and a food and supply pantry. It is staffed by a paid veterinarian and veterinary technician, and supplemented by volunteers. Appointments are reserved for those who show proof of government assistance or whose income falls below the state-defined poverty level. Pet owners are only asked to pay small fees for diagnostics, medication, or additional care their pets may need.

MCHA Director Rebecca Warren points out the clinic is caring for more than animals. “Some of the parasites and fleas we treat are transmissible to humans,” she says. “By making the pet healthier, we’re making the family and the home healthier.”

The clinic also serves the community by reducing the risk that pets will be abandoned or surrendered because owners cannot afford their care, one of the most common reasons pets are relinquished, according to MCHA. Adding pets to shelters increases the burden on already overcrowded facilities. By creating a resource to offset the cost of care, MCHA hopes to reduce the number of pets that are given up.

The new, 1,800-square-foot facility is already being utilized to capacity, says Warren, who hopes to see even more programs offered in the future.

“We were just busting out at the seams. As an executive director, this was a keep-you-up-all-night kind of problem,” Warren says of the previous 700-square-foot location. And, she says, “It would be easy for us to outgrow this space if we expand and add all of the services we want to.”

For more information, visit monroehumane.org.