The Challenge

I received a great message about a vet in Rochester, NY who is really making a difference in the lives of animals. I just had...


I received a great message about a vet in Rochester, NY who is really making a difference in the lives of animals.

I just had to share what she’s doing, and hopefully inspire others to take her challenge.

Yesterday, I opened my clinic doors and gave away my services for 3 hours. Why one might ask?

There is no doubt; we are experiencing the worst economic collapse since 1929. Times are bad, in case you haven’t been listening to the news. While driving to work, over the course of a few weeks, and thinking about President Obama’s call for us to give to our community the idea of a free clinic was born. As soon as I got to the office I bounced the idea off a few good friends and clients to get some feedback. I got thumbs up from everyone…and within minutes the first Pets in Need Clinic (PINC) started.

Next step was to call my vendors for donations. I needed vaccines, syringes, dewormers and was hoping for leukemia and HWT tests kits. Out of 13 asked 12 loved the idea and pitched in.

The next action I took was to call people I knew who worked for social action group: Visiting Nurse Service, Veteran’s Outreach, etc. With the assistance of social workers we developed a registration form. My only requirement for attending this clinic was that people show immediate need: for example recent unemployment, foreclosure, disability etc. PINC is not serving chronic welfare recipients or people looking for free vaccines.

We made the forms available to download from our website. I also listed Pets in Need as cause/organization on Facebook . Many people asked to make donations. Since we are not a 501C (non profit) facebook made it easy to name a beneficiary. I chose the Greater Birmingham Animal Shelter where a dear friend is the Executive Director.

With the help of a client and family member who are PR/media people a press release was issued to radio, TV and newspaper. I then was able to reach out to more people via the radio and TV…thanks to Beth Adams at WHAM radio, Matt Malloy at WROC TV, WHAM 13 TV and the local Rush Henrietta Post. I had a client volunteer to enhance our current logo with ” Pets in Need” and a banner listing corporate and local sponsors. We were off and running

As the Pets in Need Clinic gained popularity, we knew we would need volunteers. So, another listening went up on facebook, and the United Way developed a web link for volunteers in their system. I also approached some rescue groups that I work with for help. We were inundated with volunteers and had to eventually turn people away.

Finally, I looked for local sponsors to help defray the cost of tee shirts. Logos for corporate sponsors were on the back and out logo was on the front.

PINC held it’s first clinic Feb 21 and the response was terrific. All total we had 13 clients, 35 pets and 30 plus volunteers. All but one person had pre-registered. We had 60 plus people volunteer to help. Some who received services will be volunteering at the next clinic

We administered DA2PP, FVRCP, and Rabies vaccines. We performed HWT, leukemia/ FIV tests, and blood profiles on animals with the suspected disease. We dispensed single doses of heartworm prevention and dewormers.

What is PINC’s future plans? Our next clinic is already scheduled for April 25. Currently on our next agenda will be house calls to elderly people (already receiving meals on wheels and pet meals through a pilot program from VNS), developing a pet food bank and perhaps a low cost spay neuter program. I cannot emphasize enough that contact with the client’s social worker/caseworker is essential in order to establish immediate need.

We also are looking for people in the future to either donate a nominal fee for their pets vaccines, or if capable volunteer at another PINC clinic. (The Pay it Forward concept).

All of us that were involved in the clinic yesterday felt positive about what we accomplished and hope our efforts will create a ripple effect nationwide. Not only in the veterinary profession but other professions as well. This is a win- win situation…. no one loses…and everyone gains something.

If you need any help developing your own PINC. Don’t hesitate to contact me through email or phone.

Now I challenge not only my veterinary colleagues but also other professional with services to provide to step forward and carry on with this grassroots project. Won’t you “join in our crusade” and help those who desperately need our services? The bottom line is that with minimal expense and some effort we can bring make a difference and help those who desperately need our services.


Michelle T. Brownstein DVM

The challenge is out there, now it’s time to see who will step up to the plate. What a wonderful and caring person Dr. Brownstein is, we give her five out of five paws.

* Pic of logo courtesy the Henrietta Animal Hospital website

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