Gets Real: Mobile clinic ensures all pets get care they need and helps owners, too

They say dog is man’s best friend, but what happens if you can’t afford care for your four-legged friend?

We went behind the scenes of a mobile veterinary clinic that ensures all pets get the care they need.

Seattle Veterinary Outreach provides free or low-cost veterinary care to low income or homeless pet owners.

The mobile clinic travels around the Puget Sound region, and its first-come, first-served services are usually in high demand.

“Often when we arrive here, there can be at least 20 to 30 people waiting in line for us,” said Executive Director Rachele Raj.

The services the clinic’s small staff provides mean everything to pet owners who can’t afford to get their pet the care they need elsewhere.

“When people are living low income or unhoused, these animals are their family. So, this is sometimes the only relationship, the most stable relationship that they’ve had, their longest relationship,” said Raj.

Raj said having a clinic come to the client not only helps the animals, but their owners, who are often in need of help themselves.

“A lot of the people we work with are wary of large establishments. So, when we come out here to them, and they see that we love their animal, we start to talk, we start to connect, and then we can start bringing in human referrals and trying to support people,” said Raj.

Clinic staff can also connect pet owners to crucial health, housing and other resources.

“It helps stabilize folks. A lot of times people will feed their animals before they feed themselves,” said Raj.

She said it’s common to hear from pet owners that they don’t know what they would do if the clinic wasn’t available.

“I’m very blessed that I was able to come here to help my dog,” said client Christine Russell.

Raj says everyone deserves the love that they get from an animal, and the clinic helps make that happen.

“I think these animals that I meet out here at these clinics are so loved and well cared for. They’re out in the world, they’re usually very well socialized. These aren’t animals who are living in someone’s backyard or stuck in the house all day. They’re with their people,” she said.

And the pet owners who use the clinic are always grateful.

“Especially in these days and times. It’s a blessing,” said pet owner Adam Rice.

“Without this service I wouldn’t be able to take care of my dog,” said Charles Bridgeman.

With only one veterinarian on its staff, the clinic depends heavily on volunteers.

Seattle Veterinary Outreach holds clinics weekly throughout the Puget Sound area and is always looking for volunteers. To find a full schedule and ways to support their cause, visit: https://www.seattlevet.org/