Pet clinic “on wheels” aims to reduce owner surrender as unwanted pet population surges

Tiffany L. Dale

Staff Writer

Vet Van 8-13-15Nearly 8,500 unwanted dogs and cats entered Metro Animal Care and Control (MACC) last year; half of them were strays, the other half were surrendered by their owners. Most of them were euthanized. The facility is on pace to match that number this year and is currently operating at capacity.

According to intake questionnaires, most owners who surrender their pets do so because they cannot afford routine veterinary care or other medical bills.

One non-profit is trying to change that.

The Pet Community Center, located off of Trinity Lane, recently began operating a mobile wellness clinic, thanks to a local man’s donation of his RV. Under the guidance of the organization’s CEO Natalie Corwin, the RV became a state-licensed veterinary office on wheels. On board, pets across the community can receive vaccinations, dewormer, parasite prevention and general examinations. Pets can also receive a microchip.

Costs are offset through grants and donations.

Corwin believes it’s a step in the right direction and will allow more pet owners to keep their pets at home and out of Metro’s shelters.

“People love their pets and don’t want to give them up,” she explained. “This is one way we feel we can help reduce the number of shelter pets, which is a win for the pet, the owner and the community.”

MACC’s annual budget is about $2 million.

room 8-13-15Because so many shelters are full or nearly full, Corwin said her team decided not to place income restrictions on their services so the mobile clinic can serve as many animals as possible. She added that the clinic targets communities where research has shown a large number of pets being surrendered to MACC.

The life-saving RV hit the road on July 11 and has served an average of 40 to 50 animals per clinic. The clinic operates on Thursdays and Saturdays.

The mobile clinic isn’t the only way the Pet Community Center has taken aim at animal overpopulation. In addition to the dozens of cats and dogs spayed and neutered each day under their low-cost program, the group recently launched a new program for Madison residents.

The trap-neuter-return program, funded by PetSmart Charities, will offer free services for outdoor cats in that area. Corwin said the goal is to spay or neuter 1,000 outdoor cats in Madison over the next 12 months, adding that they have completed similar programs in Inglewood and Old Hickory.

“In other communities, the results have been really amazing. There has been a 70% reduction in the number of stray cats entering the Metro Animal Care and Control shelter from those two zip codes,” she said.

The next mobile clinic is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 13, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Fifty-Forward in Madison, 301 Madison St. Another is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Donelson Fifty-Forward, 108 Donelson Pike.

For more dates and locations, or for more information, visit the Pet Community Center’s website at www.petcommunitycenter.org or call 615-512-5001.

Contact Tiffany at 615-298-1500 or tiffany@gcanews.com.