Ranch & Coast Magazine

December 2023

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Page 53 of 147

For this reason, she says, removing the pets from their owners' care and then putting them into the shelter system is not a solution and would be detrimental to both. Instead, the center activates its fully mobile clinic on a once-weekly basis to different sites around the county to serve these members of the community. Offering basic wellness exams and procedures including spay and neuter services performed by veterinarians working on a per diem basis, Gercke estimates the program reaches about 400 pets annually. Many of the veterinarians have reported that although these pet owners don't have reliable housing, they still arrive at the mobile clinic sites with all their pet's medical paperwork and rarely miss an appointment. "I think for a lot of these people, it's really a beautiful gift that they get to keep their animals and know that their animals are healthy and taken care of," says Gercke. "It's just really, really touching to see." Gercke admits that generating support for this program is more complicated than some of the center's other initiatives, and the cost of covering the veterinarians' services and supplies, and maintaining the mobile clinic, is high. "It's very easy to get people to donate to orphan pets. is is a program where half is going to the pets, half is going to these individuals," she explains. "I do think that these animals are the key to helping these people get back on their feet, because they see them through different eyes." Donations can be made to specifically support Pets Without Walls, which Gercke says the center would love to expand in order to help even more people and pets experiencing homelessness. "I think this program really does speak to [our] mission so much," she says. "We want to help those animals because we know those animals help those people." animalcenter.org Focus philanthropy Pets Without Walls provides care for roughly 400 animals annually << ranchandcoast.com 54 DECEMBER 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE PETS WITHOUT WALLS: PHOTO COURTESY OF HELEN WOODWARD ANIMAL CENTER

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