Boca vet providing pet care for low-income families

By Tasha Martinez
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

BOCA RATON, FL (WFLX) - In this tough economy, it seems like everyone is cutting back. Unfortunately that could mean less care for our pets. But one Boca Raton vet is trying to keep animals in homes and off the streets.

"In the last six months, it went from two animals being dropped off a weekend," said Angela Gardella. "Now, we probably see six to seven on a Friday.

The tougher the economy gets, the more crowded shelters are becoming. Many families are being forced to give up their pets just to afford to live.

"If you want a low cost spay or neuter, you can find places that are funded to do that. But if your animal is sick or needs medical attention and you don't have ready cash, you really don't have anywhere to go," said Dr. Marcia Martin.

Dr. Martin along with a dozen volunteers held a Pets in Need Clinic at the Calusa Veterinary Center Sunday. Based on a national movement started in New York, the clinic offered free basic vet services to dogs and cats of families who otherwise couldn't afford healthcare for their pets.

"All his shots were due next month, and I wasn't going to be able to afford them," said Dorit Papelbaum who lives on disability. She says she often sacrifices things she needs to feed her dog, Louie.

But when it came to vet care, she just couldn't pay the high price tag. "It makes me crazy because I want him to be fully taken care of, you know, it's important to me.

Louie received shots, heart worm pills and flea medicine. Other dogs had infections and skin conditions treated. They're all preventative measures Dr. Martin believes will keep pets healthy and in the home where they belong. "I would love to do it at least once a month 'cause, I think, there's such a huge back log of patients out there waiting for care that it would take us a long time to catch up."

Dr. Martin tells us she would also like to expand services to include minor surgeries, but that would take money.

"The Pets in Need Clinic" runs mostly on donations. To help call the clinic at 561-999-3000 and ask for Dr. Martin.