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South Toledo pet care clinic aims to ease financial woes

New veterinary office has funds to help owners in need

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    Dr. Boyd Harrell, a Florida-based veterinarian, examines a dog at the clinic, which he currently runs.

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    Aimee St. Arnaud hugs the office cat Paws at the new Community Pet Care Clinic, at 4808 S. Detroit Ave. near the Anthony Wayne Trail.

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    The new Community Pet Care Clinic, 4808 S. Detroit Ave.

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A new veterinary clinic in Toledo has opened with a focus on providing pets with quality care, but also helping their financially challenged owners deal with the rising costs of animal health care.

Community Pet Care Clinic, at 4808 S. Detroit Ave. at the Anthony Wayne Trail, is using a new business model that its four owners — all involved in animal rescue work and organizations — hope could become a pattern for other such clinics elsewhere.

The clinic uses competitive rates for services, and those who can afford to pay those rates do so but a portion of what they pay goes to a clinic fund. The fund, said co-owner and Toledoan Aimee St. Arnaud, is used to help out those owners whose pets need veterinary care but otherwise couldn’t afford it.

Community Pet Care also works with other animal aid organizations to try to find other funds that might help out a financially-strapped owner whose pet needs care.

“Our services are not free. But we really try to work with people, to work with them financially,” Ms. St. Arnaud said.

Ms. St. Arnaud and partners Boyd Harrell, a Florida-based veterinarian who currently run the clinic, and two others who are active in animal rescue in New York and North Carolina but wish to remain anonymous, had known each other from conferences and seminars.

Two years ago, they started talking about the rising costs for pet care and a study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that showed the number of animals being dropped off at shelters is increasing because their owners could not afford treatment when the pet became ill.

After investing their own money, getting loans, and soliciting donations, the four launched Community Pet Care in February. It has an X-ray machine, a laboratory, holding rooms, and operating rooms. And for services it cannot provide, it has a referral system with other veterinary clinics in the area.

“We all decided to this because we saw that full veterinary care nationwide is becoming a big concern. Pets are family. We don’t want people to be in a position that they surrender their pet to a shelter because they can’t afford care,” Ms. St. Arnaud said.

The Lucas County Canine Care & Control has been working with the Community Pet Care Clinic, and director and chief dog warden Richard Stewart said the new clinic fills an area need.

“Just like with low-cost care for humans, there’s always a need for low-cost care for animals as well. It’s a niche that’s needed for the community that rarely gets noticed,” Mr. Stewart said.

Community Pet Care openly acknowledges that it is not trying to undercut other veterinary practices in the area and it isn’t operating a free clinic, the co-owner said.

“Veterinary care is expensive, so we want to make it very clear that when you go to veterinary clinics in general, they are not overcharging,” she said. 

Community Pet Clinic attempts to find solutions to those rising costs through fund-raising and networking, the co-owners say.

For example, Ms. St. Arnaud said recently a woman brought in a cat with a serious infection, but the treatment was more than she could afford. The clinic secured financial help from two rescue organizations to treat the cat, then got funds to have the cat and its kittens spayed.

The clinic’s own financial aid fund comes into use if other resources cannot be found and a pet owner can meet certain financial qualifications. “We have a list of federal programs that they can be on in order to qualify for our funds,” Ms. St. Arnaud said.

“We’re really trying to change the perception that people shouldn’t have a pet if they can’t afford it,” she said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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