A pet wellness clinic like no other


Pet clinic was different this year — but just as important

As with so many things in 2020, the 11th annual pet wellness clinic in District I, which took place November 14 and 15, was a little different this year. Instead of the large crowd of pet lovers gathered in the gymnasium, watching from afar as their pets were given a nose-to-tail exam, this year the dogs and cats were looked after in multiple rooms, and their owners had to wait patiently in their vehicles outside the old District I Community Center.

The spay and neuter surgeries were also on hold this year in keeping with COVID-19 protocols.

But some things remained the same: the District I community came together to make their community safer and their pets happier, and the student volunteers from SIRVS (Student Initiative for Reservation Veterinary Services) were on hand to make sure the furry friends went home happy and healthy.

Monte Fronk, who helped bring SIRVS to District I 11 years ago, thanked District I Representative Virgil Wind for sponsoring the event, the SIRVS team, and the Band members who cooperated with the new set of procedures.

Hillary Hooberman, a third-year veterinary student who is President of SIRVS, oversaw the procedure, which began outside, where pet owners were interviewed about their pets’ health. From there, volunteers led the dogs and cats to a scale to get their weight and then to an exam station for a thorough checkup as well as rabies, distemper, and parvo vaccines.

A lab station was set up for student volunteers to check for mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, and if necessary, pets were sent home with any necessary medications to treat a variety of illnesses.

"Next year, we hope to have all of our full services available again, including spay and neuter services," said Hillary. "Because of COVID, we haven’t been able to offer those this year."

Lauren Bernstein, the SIRVS faculty advisor, is an assistant professor of community medicine. "Part of why I love SIRVS, and part of what makes SIRVS unique is that in normal times, pet owners can be inside of this space and watch the whole process. As people are waiting, usually we have five or six tables, and everybody can see what happens in the clinic. People can listen to their pets’ hearts, and we teach them how to administer medications. They can watch their pets’ spay or neuter surgery, and they can sit with their animals as they’re waking up from anaesthesia. This is also a very important part of the process, not just for the well-being of the pet, but to also take some of the mystery out of what veterinarians do."

Monte pointed out that the clinic is a social event for the District I community. "We really hope that next year things will be back the way they were," said Monte. "We’ll have people sitting in here with their animals. We can share stories, we can share coffee, we can share companionship with not only our animals, but our neighbors and friends. So we’re hoping that next year it will be just like before, and everybody will be inside with healthy, happy pets."