Last week I told my readers about the incredible experience Gold Coast Mobile Veterinary Service had serving the homeless and low-income families of BT Barnum project in Bridgeport, Ct.
I also mentioned that we were forced to stop vaccinating and providing medical care for the pets there due to exhausting our personally provided supplies. As I related these facts to my sales representatives at two prestigious veterinary supply companies I was thrilled by these responses:
Jim, the Boehringer vaccine rep, is going to send you 1 tray of Feline distemper, K9 distemper and Rabies.
Dr. Saria, As your Pfizer sales rep, I can sample you free vaccine trays on behalf of Pfizer Animal Health in support of your local outreach program for pets of low-income and homeless people. I will send you 50 doses of thefollowing vaccines for your event so that you could vaccinate for at least 1 or 2 nights using our Pfizer Animal Health vaccines!
I will also send you out dog/cat guides to vaccination. I am glad that I was able help with your philanthropic program and contribute to the great work that you are doing in your community! Please let me know if you have any questions.
Kind Regards, Joley
In addition, I received another promise of contribution of heart-worm tests from a donor that wishes to remain anonymous.
With these supplies, we anticipate being able to serve for two, perhaps three more months when combined with our own donations of time and supplies!
Let me tell you a small story… one of the pets we saw was a tiny black Maltese looking dog.
He was well brushed, had bright and intelligent eyes, a wonderful disposition but no vaccines. His owner was a young girl and a woman whom I presume was her grandmother. Neither spoke English. Both appeared nervous and timid as they presented their puppy to me for an exam. They were in worn clothing and had just come from getting food from the soup kitchen. They had been coaxed over to our van by one of the Gold Coast team members, but it was clear they were distrustful and uncertain as to what was happening. In my broken Spanish, I said hello. I told them how beautiful their puppy was, and how sweet he seemed to be.
The pair glanced up and tentatively smiled. They reluctantly let me hold their pup.
I asked how and what he was eating. Was he urinating and defecating well?
They nodded, and then Grandma started talking in rapid Spanish.
With a laugh, I asked her to slow down and she complied, being patient and helpful as she and I communicated together about her beloved pet- he was apparently well house-trained and loved going outside but another dog in the complex was really sick and she was afraid to let her dog near him.
I agreed with her, and explained how Parvo and Distemper were names of diseases that could potentially kill her pet, but that prevention via vaccination was key to protecting her puppy from these life-threatening diseases. In my general practice, I think people forget or simply do not know that these diseases still exist and still kill hundreds of thousands of young pets in our country to this very day due to lack of prevention strategies including vaccinations and life style choices (note: at another time, we will discuss vaccines in adult pets which may stir some healthy debate).
After our conversation, Grandma and Granddaughter appeared relaxed and confident- a change of expression I saw repeated time after time as other clients came into my mobile van.
Eventually, I trimmed the black puppy’s face and cut his toe nails, showing her how to do that at home, and then vaccinated and de-wormed him with firm instructions to his owners to return with him next month for a second round.
They both left with huge smiles and lots of nods, and while the puppy may not have appreciated the shots, he is on his way to a healthy, love-filled life.