Nearing a Milestone

Three and a half years on, the Pets In Need Veterinary Clinic is fast approaching 10,000 visits. That amazing number shows how quickly word spread about the clinic, which offers deeply discounted veterinary services to low-income Rhode Island residents. But it also reveals a sad fact—for so many of our Rhode Island neighbors, the PIN clinic is an absolute necessity: without it, they wouldn’t be able to afford proper care for their beloved pets.

Sam Schenck, DVM, is the clinic’s full time veterinarian. Along with five veterinary technicians, Schenck sees common and uncommon pets four days a week. In addition to dogs and cats, Schenck and the PIN clinic staff have helped guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets and even a hedgehog with a skin issue. The most common complaints are ear infections, stomach issues, and broken legs. We tend to think of animals as more surefooted than humans but one wrong landing –when a dog has jumped off a chair or a cat has tumbled from a high perch—can result in fractured bones.

Another common problem? Dental issues. Our four-legged companions aren’t immune to the dental troubles we have. Gingivitis, periodontal disease and abscessed teeth are some of the conditions treated in the clinic’s dedicated dental room. Dental problems are so common, in fact, that Schenck devotes one full day per week to dental care.

The PIN clinic provides diagnostic testing, including x-rays, ultrasounds and echocardiograms; diagnoses the problem; and successfully treats it. It’s gratifying to heal a pet that’s a loving companion to its elderly owner, a comfort to someone disabled, or a source of joy to a family, but three and a half years on, the need has become greater than the clinic’s capabilities. Despite the fact that the staff is supported by veterinary student interns, as well as veterinary specialists who deeply discount their services as needed, the PIN clinic is booked seven weeks out—and dental services are booked through May 2020.

Shenck’s wish list for the PIN clinic includes a second full-time veterinarian and additional technicians, as well as another exam room. A last wish is for a tonometer. A handheld device that’s shaped like a large marker, a tonometer is used to check eye pressure and diagnose glaucoma.

When our beloved pets suffer, we suffer, too. That’s why we are so grateful to the Rhode Island SPCA and the Companion Animal Foundation, which helped make the clinic a reality, and for the support of the Rhode Island Foundation and the Champlin Foundation, which have helped us keep our doors open. And in this season of gratitude we offer our heartfelt thanks to our individual donors: your contributions, large and small, help us continue our mission of restoring pets to their loving homes.

Please donate to the Pets In Need Veterinary Clinic