Portland pet owners who are homeless or living in extreme poverty have access to free veterinary care for their animals through a volunteer, donation-funded program called PAW Team. This unique group of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and other veterinary welfare organizations offer monthly free clinics providing preventative and basic health care for pets. The PAW Team programs also include:
- A phone and email advice line staffed by veterinary technicians
- Spay and Neuter services
- Chronic care management
- Prescription diets (pet food also available through the Pongo Fund)
- Client education
PAW Team was organized in 2003 as a way to consolidate individual efforts and resources and better service our at risk pet community. In the beginning, clinics were offered four times a year and cared for 20 to 40 pets at a time. In 2010, the PAW Team increased the frequency of their clinics to once a month with an average of 142 pets per monthly clinic. Clinics are located at 3016 SE Division (corner of 30th and Division) and appointments are offered on a first come, first serve basis. Pets are seen between 1pm and 4pmbut as word has spread so has the demand for care. People wait for hours in line to be seen and some may be turned away until the next clinic.
Some of the patients who are seen are suffering with conditions that can only be corrected with a surgical procedure. Many of these pets have been living with painful debilitating conditions for months. Kissy was one of those pets. Kissy is an adult cat whose owner noticed she was losing weight, not wanting to eat, and drooling. She was seen at multiple PAW clinics. Kissy suffered from inflammatory stomatitis; a painful condition of the mouth where the body becomes allergic to their teeth. Their gums become inflamed and swollen leading to pain and infection. The only way to alleviate their discomfort is to remove all the teeth.
Northwest Neighborhood Veterinary Hospital along with Dr. Susan Morgan has collaborated with PAW Team to provide a facility and support staff to assist with these special surgical cases. Kissy had her dental procedure at Northwest Neighborhood Veterinary Hospital in June and is now pain free and back to eating well.