Founded in 1996 at the Southside Community Center (a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating African American culture), the Southside Healthy Pet Clinic is a monthly walk-in clinic that is run by veterinary students from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and provides health-care for about 500 pets annually in an under-privileged section of our community. Through the collaboration of students, faculty, and veterinarians in the surrounding area, the Southside program provides routine veterinary care for pets owned by families whose income is less than twice the national poverty level. Clients pay a nominal fee for the services provided. This income is invested in the Southside Community Center’s programs – not the Healthy Pet Clinic.
First- and second-year veterinary students provide veterinary care to animals that may otherwise not have access to life-enhancing and preventative medical care, thereby sustaining the human-animal bond that is recognized as a vital part of people’s lives. Supervised by advanced student mentors, volunteer veterinarians from the community, and College faculty, the students serve as the primary clinicians. In recent years, the Southside Healthy Pet Clinic has taken its services on the road, offering day-long clinics in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and most recently, Albany (March 30, 2013).
An example of Learning by Doing
The students at the College of Veterinary Medicine have regular opportunities to deal with adults who are caring for the family pet on behalf of the family. While these interactions are rich with opportunities for technical learning, they can fall short in opportunities to understand the true value that the animal patient brings to the emotional and physical well-being of the family unit and, in particular, the children. It is rare, for instance, that our students have an opportunity to clearly witness the pride that children feel when they are involved in caring for their pet or the overwhelming compassion family members experience when an animal is not feeling its best.
The Southside Healthy Pet Clinic provides this essential experience for our students. Through the service-learning opportunity, students gain an appreciation for the need to sustain the human-animal relationship, they internalize the profound expectations that clients have of veterinarians and their ability to heal, and they learn compassion.
Help us Ensure the Future
To ensure the program’s future, the College is partnering with people and organizations around the country to establish a $100,000 endowment. While protecting the endowment's principle, the annual payout will enable the clinic to maintain supplies of consumables like gauze, syringes, and rabies tags. The yearly allotments from the endowment will also be invested in necessary equipment like tables, mats, and fans. Beyond these tangible items, though, the income from the endowed fund will guarantee that veterinary students have an opportunity to engage with families who desperately want to care for their pets, to share their feelings and to reflect on the importance of their profession and the value that companion animals bring to life.
Thank you to those who already make this work possible. If you would like to learn more about supporting the program, please contact Amy Robinson at 607.253.3742.
The Southside Healthy Pet Clinic could not thrive without the help of multiple student volunteers as well as companies. Industry support comes in the form of product donations, for example flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives; diagnostic testing kits; and deworming medication. The Clinic would like to thank the following companies for their generous donations.