How we started
One can do an Internet search for ‘mobile cat clinics’ and find a number of sites with lots of good information. Our mobile clinic started out with one vet standing over a ping pong table in a member’s garage teaching us how to do prep and recovery so that she could fix the 40 sick and hungry cats we had just removed from a cat hoarder’s sad little residence.
When we succeeded, with the vet’s sanity in tact and all the cats alive and fixed, we were thrilled, and ready to tackle the cat kingdom head on. The biggest hurdle was money. This was our second year at doing yard sales, soliciting donations from community members needing tax write offs, and begging a lot. We were able to offer gift certificates (about a 50% co-pay) to people to help offset the costs at their own vet clinics. In 2006, we raised about $10,000.00 for our program and fixed 56 cats in the garage. We ran short on funds and worried a lot. We had tasted success and wanted more of it.
The next year one of our members, with no grant writing experience at all, brought us a totally unexpected $5,000.00! We all sat around the table, admiring the check and day dreaming about all we could accomplish. What we discovered was that calls from low-income residents needing help getting their cats fixed made the money disappear really fast.
Heady with her newfound success, our newly accomplished grant writer started looking for new grants to submit. To our delight, between the grants she found and our yard sales and community member’s donations, we brought in (and spent) $30,000.00 in 2007.
Another memorable event happened in 2007 that changed our group’s direction. While we had been successful at fixing cats in small numbers, we had enough local vets willing to help us so that we knew we could do bigger clinics if we just had the equipment. We called Sue Anderson, at Pet Saver’s in Spokane, and asked if they would loan us enough spay packs to do a large clinic. Instead, Pet Savers brought the surgical packs along as they came to help us at our first big clinic. We booked the Chewelah Youth Center, put out posters, advertised, and lined up 140 cats. We didn’t know what to expect.
We moved furniture, spread tarps over pool tables and fixed 127 cats at that first big clinic. At the end of the day we were exhausted, but delirious with delight. Volunteers from the community had flocked to help us. Cats were fixed we had not known existed! People had stood around with their mouths hanging open at the sight of five vets working in a circle (at a teen center, of all places) as the cats came through the various stations assembly line style all the way from check in to check out. We also cleaned out their ear mites and vaccinated them with a 3-way vaccination as a free extra bonus, knowing these things would never be done if we didn’t do them. We continued to do mobile clinics in various communities, fixing a total of 785 cats in 2007.
By March of 2011 we had just fixed our 5,000th cat. In October of 2012 we fixed kitty number 7,000. We no longer have a voucher program and are concentrating totally on bringing our mobile clinics to the low income residents of Stevens County, Washington by setting up one Sunday each month in a community center in a different location.
Our success thus far can be attributed to the veterinarians who give up a Sunday each month to work with us, the volunteers who come to help regardless of long drives, bad weather conditions and long hours, and the small grants and local donations that keep trickling in to support our program. But we are also successful because we were day-dream believers who never gave up. And the dream continues………………