In a normal year, Animal Samaritans serves roughly 65,000 clients through its low-cost veterinary clinics. While the nonprofit is a comprehensive animal welfare organization offering community outreach, therapy animal programming and pet adoptions, it has turned its focus to veterinary services throughout the pandemic.
The organization offers affordable veterinary care and financial aid for low-income clients who cannot afford these services. Its mission is to keep pets with their guardians.
The demand for services has steadily increased throughout COVID-19, even as the organization has managed staff shortages caused by safety protocols and unexpected quarantines. The organization has also had to pare down the number of clients it sees daily and transition to curbside services to control the flow of patients.
“It’s been really challenging, but I’m proud to say we’ve been able to stay open first with essential care needs and more recently to our full menu of care services,” said Tom Snyder, the organization’s CEO.
Animal Samaritans has hired on a second exam room veterinarian and a new chief medical officer with an urgent care specialty. This has allowed staff to better address emergencies that don’t require overnight stays. High demand requires some patience, especially with getting pet vaccinations. There is always a challenge of balancing the cost of increasing staff while keeping costs low for clients.
“We’ve been able to maintain our full staff of close to 60 employees, in part, because of donations and a PPP loan,” Snyder said. “The community support was important.”
Recently, Animal Samaritans received a grant from the Todd Barajas Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. These funds will be used to replenish vital medical equipment, including an autoclave to sterilize instruments and a new hydraulic lift exam table for large dogs. The organization also needs to invest in more 2-in-1 laptops to help doctors in the exam room connect with clients waiting outside.
While Animal Samaritans has been focused on providing veterinary care, it is slowly easing back into bringing adoptable pets into the community. In February, the organization was able to bring Mr. Rogers, an adoptable tripod dog, into the lobby of the Westin Mission Hills. Mr. Rogers had come into the shelter with a broken leg and required extensive medical care at the clinic before his leg was ultimately amputated.
“It wasn’t cheap, but Mr. Rogers was worth it,” Snyder said. “Typically, this would have been too expensive and people couldn’t afford that, but it was nice to see him thrive and a get a chance to have a proper home.”
Mr. Rogers was quickly adopted and now has a wonderful and loving home, Snyder said.
Animal Samaritans always welcomes donations to support its work. The organization is also looking forward to offering more volunteer opportunities as more people get vaccinated and the pandemic wanes. Interested individuals who can give with their time and their talents in the future or would like to donate can find more information on Animal Samaritans’ website.
The organization plans to continue growing, and this will require community support of time and funds. Just before the pandemic struck, Animal Samaritans launched a capital campaign with a $6 million goal to build a new no-kill animal shelter and education center adjacent to its Thousand Palms veterinary clinic. While the campaign is currently stalled, Animal Samaritans hopes to complete this effort soon.
“We’ll be back with humane education and therapy,” Snyder said. “But if we weren’t around, community members would have lost their pets. It’s the most important thing we’ve been able to do during the pandemic.”
For more information, call (760) 343-3477 or visit animalsamaritans.org.
The Inland Empire Community Foundation’s mission is to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy. Learn more about them at iegives.org.