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There Is HoPe: Free Veterinary Care For Homeless Pets

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Photo by jeffreyw via Flickr

Photo by jeffreyw via Flickr
Once a month, VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital’s Imaging Center transforms into HoPe Veterinary Center, a free clinic for homeless pets. HoPe has been offering monthly clinics since July and this past Sunday 45 animals were treated, including many first-timers. Notes Venice Patch, though some clients came from Downtown and other parts of LA, many of the pet owners came from Venice and Santa Monica, where the center was advertising services

Volunteer doctors assessed, diagnosed, ran blood tests, administered shots, removed abscesses and performed surgeries to spay and neuter the pets (providing necessary paperwork for some to register with the City of Los Angeles). Clinic founder Dr. Tina Owen wanted to provide some relief to the local homeless population. "She said for many homeless people, the emotional connection with their pets may be the only one they have," notes the Venice Patch.

One of the dogs treated at the clinic was an English Staffordshire terrier-black lab mix named Matanuska that's been trained to sense when his owner Robe Allen is about to have a seizure. About 10 to 15 minutes before an episode, the dog will bump his nose insistently against Allen's body, next pull at his clothes and finally, the otherwise quiet Matanuska will bark. Allen obeys Matanuska's warnings by lying down while the dog lies against his back to keep him from rolling back or asphyxiating on his tongue. "I try to keep him as healthy as possible. His health determines my health," Allen said to Venice Patch.

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Funding, however, is a ongoing problem for HoPe Veterinary Center. While the all-volunteer, all-donation organization does receive some help -- like VCA Animal Hospital lending its Animal Imaging Center -- they are in dire need of money. Each monthly clinic still costs approximately $10,000 to pay for medicine and supplies and emergency operations/hospitalizations between monthly clinics cost from $2,500-$8,000 per procedure, bringing HoPe's annual operating cost to about $250,000, reports Venice Patch.

HoPe's next clinic is scheduled for February 20 (10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.) at 1827 Pontius Ave. in West LA.