Doney Memorial Pet Clinic serves people and their pets with compassion and kindness

By Brenda Kay Neth

SHA resident

 

Low-income and homeless pet owners wait outside Seattle's Union Gospel Mission, where inside, volunteers at Doney Memorial Pet Clinic help treat cats and dogs and offer toys and treats from the pet food bank.

Low-income and homeless pet owners wait outside Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, where inside, volunteers at Doney Memorial Pet Clinic help treat cats and dogs and offer toys and treats from the pet food bank.

Goochy, Bear, Melvin, and Bob the cat: today is your day.

On a recent visit in July, a sign of Doney Memorial Pet Clinic’s popularity was made obvious by the line of mostly homeless men and women that stretched around the block. Between five and six dozen of their best friends, including dogs, cats, kittens and puppies, waited patiently, albeit a few humans and animals were seen fidgeting to get tender loving care at no charge from volunteer veterinarians Drs. Stan Coe and Ann Whereat.

Coe has been volunteering his time at the Doney Clinic for 33 years after its founder, Bud Doney, passed away. Coe said he took over the responsibility of the clinic to prevent it from closing. He retired from the Elliott Bay Animal Hospital in 2001, but that hasn’t stopped him from volunteering.
“It would be a big loss for someone if they can’t have a pet,” Coe said, as he was preparing for his first client of the afternoon.
The waiting line to get into the clinic stretched around the block and half way down the street, a pretty typical scenario for the Doney Clinic.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ann Whereat was busy assessing Goochy, a boxer/terrier mix suffering from inflammation around his neck. Goochy’s owner, Kris Hronek, said Goochy had eye and skin issues that had been treated at the clinic, and he has also received vaccinations.

“The staff are incredible, a necessity for this town,” Hronek said.

Whereat has been volunteering for about two months, and said all volunteers are committed to providing service to animals and their owners. Whereat looks Goochy over thoroughly and determines the dog needs cortisone to help with the inflammation.

Outside, Adam is making his way to the end of the line. With him is Bob, his cat. The 12-year-old Maine Coon mix has an injured leg, and Adam is grateful for the free services of the clinic. The pair have been inseparable since Adam adopted him from a pet rescue when he was a kitten. Adam said he has also sought care at the Doney Clinic when Bob suffered a spinal injury.

Back inside the clinic, Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) residents Leon Bailey of Tri-Court and Bayview Tower’s Donovan Freeman, both volunteers, are preparing to set up food and supplies. Beside them are their pets Bear, an American pit bull, and Melvin, a six-year-old Border Collie and Terrier mix.

Their best friends, both on leashes, are resting comfortably and seem to be sniffing approvingly at each other while their owners are called on to help unload trucks that are carrying food and other supplies from donors.

“It is very challenging volunteering because it is so hectic. Many clients grow impatient while waiting for supplies,” Freeman said.

Freeman has been volunteering for about 1 1/2 years and said he loves helping the animals.

Dr. Coe checks on Bear, a pitbull, as Bear's owner, Leon Bailey, a resident of Tri-Court and clinic volunteer, looks on.

Dr. Coe checks on Bear, a pitbull, as Bear’s owner, Leon Bailey, a resident of Tri-Court and clinic volunteer, looks on.

“I will keep on volunteering as long as I am living,” Bailey added.

His dog, Bear, suddenly looks up at him with a seemingly approving stare. Bailey said he found out about volunteering through other volunteers at the clinic and comes weekly to assist in unloading trucks and assembling the pet food and toys. He said he loves learning about the different diets provided for cats and dogs.

And he tries not to let the “disturbing” lack of gratitude displayed by some clients tarnish his enthusiasm for the Doney Clinic and its mission.
Jenny Schultz, volunteer coordinator, said volunteering at the clinic is not for the faint of heart. Schultz mentions the need for crowd control, since many clients may face mental health challenges or drug

Bob the cat awaits his fate in the safety of his cage. The clinic, which is first-come, first-served, is staffed entirely by volunteers.

Bob the cat awaits his fate in the safety of his cage. The clinic, which is first-come, first-served, is staffed entirely by volunteers.

problems. There can also be dog fights.

Schultz said the line for services begins as early as 11 a.m. Pet food and other animal supplies and toys are given out at 2 p.m., with medical care starting at 3 p.m.

For more information about the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic, visit www.doneyclinic.org.

Comments are closed.