I got out of the house today all by myself, which is reason enough to be excited. But, even better, I got out to do some volunteer work for a new veterinary clinic in L.A. called HoPe Veterinary Center. It’s a clinic for the pets of homeless people. Right now, it’s open once a month.
It was started by one of the other vets at my husband’s work, and when he mentioned it casually, I just about pounced on him to sign me up to volunteer. It’s really something I’ve always wanted to get involved with, but hadn’t found a place to do it. Sometimes fate just hands you something and lets you know where you need to be.
Pets are so important for people to have regardless of their situations. Pets have been shown to decrease stress and increase happiness. There’s nothing quite like the unconditional love you get from an animal. For homeless people, pets offer companionship and provide a sense of belonging and normalcy. Unfortunately, the pets don’t always receive basic veterinary care for obvious reasons.
It was so nice to be able to go and provide that today. Vaccines, dewormings, microchips, and flea control were mostly what I did today. Not too mentally challenging, but so rewarding, being able to help both the animal and their owner, and help keep their relationship going strong.
I was so surprised how thankful the owners were today. Really just genuinely thankful for their pets to be getting taken care of. I gave out some antibiotics for a really bad skin infection on one dog. Really a simple thing, but it will make such an improvement in that dog’s life to not be in pain and itching constantly. Got rid of some fleas for a couple of others, and vaccinated a puppy so he won’t pick up diseases that could kill him. I did all those things when I was in private practice, too, but for some reason, it just didn’t seem as important. I guess it’s really a feeling of helping the people as well as the pet that makes the difference.
Of course, as nice as volunteering sounds, I really think I got as much if not more out of it than the owners today. First, did I mention I got out of the house with no children today? That is priceless and was much needed, even if it was just for a few hours. (Thanks, Mom, for babysitting.) Second, I got to practice medicine and really enjoy it. It’s honestly been a long time since I’ve enjoyed my profession. There are a lot of jerks out there and most people aren’t very appreciative. It was nice to not have to deal with the money issues and to just feel appreciated for doing my job. It is a pretty cool job after all. And, of course, helping someone just makes me feel good.
The clinic is just open once a month right now. It’s really perfect for me with my current child situation. I definitely plan on going back.
Do you volunteer at all? What do you do?