Articles,  Ohio State

Volunteers offer free clinical services to pets owned by low-income residents

Volunteers from Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, including students, faculty and staff as well as veterinarians from the local Columbus community helped perform spay/neuter surgeries and wellness checks to animals for Our Oath in Action Day – Ohio, a philanthropic event sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and Hill’s Pet Nutrition that offers free clinical services to animals owned by low-income clients.

“Through Our Oath in Action Day, we have provided…services to those in great need in Columbus, Ohio, including pet owners who are homeless, living in assisted living and those who are home-bound receiving Meals on Wheels,” said Laura Sutherland, event coordinator and third-year veterinary student. “Our services reached clientele who would not have been able to afford or even access wellness care for their pets.”

The 75 volunteers provided approximately 50 spay and neuter procedures and 110 wellness checks to animals around the city on Oct. 25. Volunteers picked up pets from around Franklin County and specifically the Columbus Housing Network. According to the OOIAD Facebook page, CHN’s residents earn an average salary of $5,045 per year and 66 percent are formerly homeless. The volunteers were able to perform spay and neuter procedures thanks to Shelter Outreach Services of Ohio, which supplied their facility for the event at no cost.

The day consisted of additional volunteer actions around Columbus, such as mobile wellness visits and staffing community outreach booths in local farmers’ markets. All students were accompanied by a veterinarian.

The owners of the animals who benefited from the event were each pre-screened based on their financial status by organizations such as Faithful Forgotten Best Friends, Lifecare Alliance and the CHN. OOIAD’s organizing committee included College of Veterinary Medicine students Ally Sterman, Class of 2015, Anda Naumoff, Kelsey Gerbig, Joshua Yoo and Sutherland, all Class of 2016. Many students echoed their sentiments about the day’s success, and were happy to be able to help both local residents and non-human animals.

“The gratitude towards our volunteers and the services we provided was palpable.  It’s hard to describe the happiness on someone’s face, but it lent the day a joyful feeling that spread like wildfire,” Sutherland said. “A number of our clients lived alone and you could easily tell how important their cat or dog was to them…it is not a lack of interest in neutering pets that results in so many unwanted litters, but rather a lack of easy access to affordable, low-cost or no-cost neutering services.”