Message from Administration
Why we started the Low Cost Vet Mobile
As anyone who cares about or rescues animals knows, veterinary expenses are prohibitive for 90% of pet parents. Without veterinary medical care the angels we care so much about have little chance of living either a comfortable nor long life. Therefore, the veterinarian is the animals' most necessary need, perhaps even more than food, water and shelter, since dogs and cats in undeveloped countries without veterinary care live in the streets, albeit in misery, uncomfortable with constant diseases and have a short lifespan. When we transform an animal angel into a member of our household and family we want the very best that life can give for them, as if it was our own child. In order to do so we must sacrifice our labor, money, and time. Labor and time are easier to provide than money, which makes veterinary expense the single most difficult aspect to pet ownership. Recognizing this fact, in 2005 we began the Safety Net program at New York City Animal Control ("ACC"), as up to 90% of surrenders for euthanasia to ACC had historically been for inability to pay necessary veterinary expenses. Safety Net was the first attempt in the world to have support services available to help pet owners keep their pets, whether by providing low cost veterinary services, low cost boarding, legal support, training assistance, or otherwise. We recruited one veterinary practice in every borough to provide low cost services, who reduced their prices for our referrals. However, one by one each one of the five veterinarians dropped out of the Safety Net, citing the inappropriate behavior of some of our referred pet parents. Eventually, ACC began its own surrender prevention program, which continues today. Unfortunately, ACC's surrender prevention efforts does not have a low cost veterinary component. Therefore, we realized that we had to launch our own low cost veterinary service. In 2009 we did just that by launching the first Low Cost Vet Mobile. Since then, we have made history by providing the first full service, low cost, mobile veterinary service in the world. We are STILL the one and only such service in the world, with news reports not only locally but even in foreign countries such as Romania and Russia (see news reports on our media page).
The Challenges We Face Which Affect our Clients and their Animals
We operate 7 days a week, and the Vet Mobiles work five to six days a week. This requires three shifts of staff, with each shift working 8-15 hours per day. There are many days when our staff sleeps 3-4 hours in order to finish the previous day's workload and be up in time to start the next morning's tasks. We are lucky if we get to sleep 5 - 6 hours a day. In addition to working such long shifts on such short sleep, day in and day out, for FOURTEEN YEARS now, our 13 person staff has to still fight the brutal heat or cold or rain or snow, vehicular breakdowns, aggressive and frightened animals, and worst of all, a small amount of difficult pet parents. Some come to us expecting free services, others come to us with unrealistic expectations, yet others come to us planning to steal our services with pretexts of paying our low cost fees, not to mention the under-educated who cannot comprehend nor remember anything the veterinarian says, much less follow instructions in the treatment plan or administration of medications, the drunks, those who come to us high on drugs, etc. In short, our staff puts up with a LOT. As a result we have come up with some basic policy guidelines which we list here. If a person violates these guidelines we will issue one verbal or email warning and note the issues in that person's record. If corrected there is no problem. If the objectionable behavior is continued the person is banned from the Low Cost Vet Mobile. We end up banning one out of 100 people (1%) who seek our low cost services. Banning someone is our last choice, but it becomes our ONLY option as we will not tolerate dishonesty, rude behavior, or threats to our staff. Once banned our policy is to un-ban only if the person acknowledges that their behavior was unacceptable. If we had to call the police on that person our policy is never to un-ban that person.