Dog House Design Inspirations


I’m lucky to have been a pet writer for nearly a decade. I regularly interview veterinarians for articles, and while I’m typically impressed by their knowledge of medicine, I’ve also been amazed by how generously they give back to their local communities. I’ve spoken with veterinary teams who give free exams to service and police dogs, offer low-cost spay/neuter surgeries to local animal shelters, lead free educational workshops, and sponsor walk-a-thons to raise money for canine cancer research.

So I wasn’t surprised—although still moved—to learn about the support veterinarians give to Pets of the Homeless, a Nevada-based nonprofit that provides pet food and mobile veterinary services to low-income and homeless people across the country.

In partnership with Pets of the Homeless, veterinarians and volunteers have treated over 13,000 animals. Typically, these pop-up wellness clinics include vaccinations, physical exams, and treatment for minor injuries or illnesses. If a pet needs emergency care, such as surgery in an animal hospital, Pets of the Homeless has a program to help defray costs of that treatment, while veterinarians provide deep discounts for the procedure.

“We would...


I’m lucky to have been a pet writer for nearly a decade. I regularly interview veterinarians for articles, and while I’m typically impressed by their knowledge of medicine, I’ve also been amazed by how generously they give back to their local communities. I’ve spoken with veterinary teams who give free exams to service and police dogs, offer low-cost spay/neuter surgeries to local animal shelters, lead free educational workshops, and sponsor walk-a-thons to raise money for canine cancer research.

So I wasn’t surprised—although still moved—to learn about the support veterinarians give to Pets of the Homeless, a Nevada-based nonprofit that provides pet food and mobile veterinary services to low-income and homeless people across the country.

In partnership with Pets of the Homeless, veterinarians and volunteers have treated over 13,000 animals. Typically, these pop-up wellness clinics include vaccinations, physical exams, and treatment for minor injuries or illnesses. If a pet needs emergency care, such as surgery in an animal hospital, Pets of the Homeless has a program to help defray costs of that treatment, while veterinarians provide deep discounts for the procedure.

“We would not be able to do this without the help of veterinarians,” said Renee Lowry, the organization’s executive director.  

Kevin Stoothoff, DVM, owner of South Ocala Animal Clinic in Ocala, Florida, was awarded a $500 grant from Pets of the Homeless in 2008. Since then, Stoothoff, his wife, and a band of volunteers visit a local soup kitchen twice a month to offer veterinary services, and have only missed a few visits due to tropical storms or hurricanes.

Stoothoff vaccinates, deworms, and administers flea medication as needed to about 18 dogs and cats per visit, or as he said, “Pretty much whoever shows up.” He and his team also typically distribute about 200 pounds of pet food, thanks to donations at his practice. Adult animals must be spayed or neutered in order to receive services, which helps combat the issue of pet overpopulation.

“As a veterinarian, I think we’re not only serving the community, but God’s creatures too,” he said. “These animals aren’t mistreated—the people really do take a lot of pride in their pets and do try to take care of them the best they can.”

Stoothoff said word of mouth has spread, and now when he and the other volunteers arrive at the soup kitchen, there are homeless people waiting to help them set up. They’ve attracted some memorable clients, such as the gentleman who has a remarkable cat that rides in the basket of his bicycle wherever he goes. At night, the cat watches over their tent and never ventures far from his human.

“It’s kind of a neat bond where this cat helps him as much as he watches out for this cat,” Stoothoff said.

Another regular has come at least once a month for the past three years to get flea medication for her little Chihuahua mix and to have the dog’s toenails trimmed.

“We always make a little bit of a fuss over her,” Stoothoff said. “She’s an older woman, probably in her seventies. She’s always got a nice thing to tell us and she’s always got a smile on her face. And the dog’s always really good for us.”

Kacie Martin, DVM, medical director of AAHA-accredited VCA Wyoming Animal Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been volunteering for a year with Pets of the Homeless. The first Wednesday of every month, she goes to a local homeless shelter to provide veterinary wellness services such as vaccinations for rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. Pharmaceutical companies have often donated medication to help with the cause.

“Vaccinations need to be done for the animals’ health and the human-health side of things,” she said. “We’re able to provide a lot of veterinary care in a short amount of time.”

One regular client rushed his dog to Martin’s practice on a Saturday when the husky/shepherd mix was seriously ill. Emergency surgery to remove an obstruction in the stomach saved the dog’s life. Like many of Martin’s clients in the homeless community, the man was incredibly grateful for her help.

“They love their animals,” Martin said. “They’re willing to share their own food or make sure their animals get food before they do. You can tell they care about their animals and they’re such an important part of their life.”

George Glanzberg, VMD, retired two years ago at the age of 79, but after learning about Pets of the Homeless, he applied for and received a $2,000 grant to start a free veterinary clinic at a church in Bennington, Vermont. Recently, with the help of his wife and a colleague, he opened the doors to his first clinic and was overwhelmed by the response.

“We had planned to do this for two hours, but it turned out we needed three. We had 35 people come with 40 animals,” he said. “There’s really a great need for it, and it’s nice to be able to be helpful to these animals and the people.”

Glanzberg said Pets of the Homeless is a wonderful organization, and that he is touched by stories he’s heard of homeless men and women adopting homeless dogs and cats they meet on the streets. He became emotional when summing up his feelings about his new Help-a-Pet clinics, and quoted Aesop:

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Freelance journalist Jen Reeder is inspired by veterinarians who volunteer their time and services to help pets and the people who love them.

Photos courtesy of Alex Fabrikant and Pets of the Homeless


Read full article on aaha.org