CT Humane clinics expand with $47k PetSmart Charities® grant

As more families seek help to keep their pets during challenging times, the Connecticut Humane Society’s community wellness clinics will continue and even expand their services this year.

Thanks to a $47,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, CHS will bring eight pop-up clinic days to Norwich over the next 18 months. The clinics will give even more pets the opportunity to keep the homes they love rather than landing in a shelter, as the cost of veterinary care—especially when untreated conditions grow severe—is a primary reason people give up their pets.

Each wellness clinic sets up for one day with CHS staff in a central location, like senior centers, low-income housing, and other community buildings. More than 1,400 pets have been served since the program began in 2016—all at no cost to families and individuals in need—through wellness exams, weigh-ins, nail trims and flea/tick collars, as well as food, blankets and other pet supplies.

CHS has provided follow-up medical care on a limited basis in the past for pets from the wellness days, but the grant and program expansion will allow more of that to happen at CHS’ Fox Memorial Clinic and collaborating veterinary partners. This year’s wellness days will also provide transportation for those with no other means to get to the clinics, and Spanish interpretation services.

The pet wellness clinic program originally launched in Norwich due to the high needs of pets and their owners there, as well as their limited access to veterinary care. The program will now expand there because area residents have been particularly hard hit financially due to the pandemic.
Participating pet owners will continue to be referred to the clinics by St. Vincent de Paul Place (the city’s largest community meal site), animal control, the senior center and human service providers.

As the clinic offerings expand this year, CHS will determine the best way for the program to continue with the extra services long into the future and serve other high-need communities and pet owners in need.
“We are proud to support the expansion of CHS’ veterinary services in Norwich,” said Kelly Balthazor, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities. “Lack of affordable pet care is often a reason pet parents surrender their pets to shelters. By providing basic veterinary care through collaborative efforts, this work will ensure that families, including people and their pets, can continue to thrive together in the face of uncertainty.” 

In a time when people are relying on their pets for comfort, companionship and stability more than ever before, keeping pets in their homes has become a greater goal for CHS. When pets are able to keep the homes they already have through resources like the wellness clinics, more space is available at CHS for pets who are truly homeless.

“CHS’ pet wellness clinics have become a safety net that so many are turning to. Whether we’re seeing a senior citizen who must get their pet updated on vaccines in order to keep their senior housing, or a family who is going through a rough patch because of job loss, the clinics keep pets and their people together,” CHS Executive Director James Bias said. “We’re very grateful to PetSmart Charities for this grant and making it possible for pets to keep the homes and people they love.”