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How to host a preventive care clinic in your community

A cute cat being examined As the nation’s leading preventive care veterinary practice, Banfield is equipped to deliver veterinary care at scale both in and outside our hospitals – all in service of our purpose: A Better World for Pets.

One of the ways Mars, Inc., our parent company, gives back is through the Mars Volunteer Program, or MVP. Banfield is proud to participate in MVP, a year-round program that enables our Associates to give back on company time in their local communities. We are gearing up to host several preventive care clinics across the country during October, our volunteer spotlight month. These clinics are organized in partnership with local nonprofits to provide preventive veterinary care at no cost in underserved areas.

Preventive care clinics offer comradery, build confidence, expand skillsets, and both empower and reinvigorate veterinary professionals. These are all extremely important, especially in our profession where compassion fatigue and mental health are critical issues.

Through our Associates’ commitment to volunteering, we announced an incredible milestone this year: Banfield Associates have helped 1 million pets and people in our communities since our Banfield Gives Back volunteer program was established 10 years ago.

This long history of giving back allows us a unique vantage point to collate and share best practices so any veterinary professional can plan a local preventive care clinic. This feeds our desire to share our resources with the broader profession, something we value at Banfield and bring to life on the Banfield Exchange. Here are some of our learnings and best practices that we hope our fellow veterinary professionals can put to use in hosting your own care clinics.

CARE CLINICS KEY LEARNINGS

Find a great partner.

Hosting a clinic is best when you have strong partnerships. This is important when you are conceptualizing your event with your team, and as you bring the event to life with a shelter or other nonprofit. Having a partner helps share the planning, responsibility, and joy that comes with helping those in need. Start by looking within your practice for another veterinarian or medical partner who can work alongside you, as they are a critical piece to executing a successful care clinic.

When finding a shelter partner, look towards neighborhoods or populations that are underserved as this will help determine a partner that could make a big impact for people and pets that truly need care.

Banfield’s charitable arm, the Banfield Foundation, often works closely with us to fund the medical supplies for our clinics, while Banfield Associates share their time, talent, and skills. If you are looking for funding for your own clinic, we recommend encouraging your nonprofit partner to apply for a Banfield Foundation grant at: https://www.banfieldfoundation.org/en/Banfield-Foundation-Grant-Programs.

Find an area of focus.

There are many different preventive care services to offer during your clinic. The most common services include physical exams, vaccines and medications, flea/tick treatments or other preventives, and ear cleaning and nail trims. You could also offer microchipping if you have the resources. A team may decide it is most important to focus efforts on addressing one critical need, like delivering rabies vaccines for a large volume of pets. When appropriate medical facilities are available, spay and neuter surgeries are another option teams may provide free of charge to help make shelter pets in their communities more adoptable. Always consider first which vaccines are legally required for pet ownership and which are most critical for pets (i.e. core versus at-risk). You’ll want to be realistic about what resources are available and what your hospital or market can support financially.

To determine an area of focus, we recommend having a preliminary conversation with a local nonprofit in the area that you are considering to gain an understanding of the needs in that community. Are they seeing an increase in pets with heartworm? Consider heartworm testing and ProHeart injections if you have a team that has been medically approved to use PH6 and PH12. Are there infectious diseases that are specific to that region or cyclical ailments that should be considered? Look at tailoring a preventive care clinic to accommodate the needs of the community. Are stray dogs or cats common in the area? Consider volunteering your team’s time to do a spay and neuter clinic. Before deciding on an area of focus, make sure to review your local laws / legislation on what procedures can be performed on un-owned animals.

Another consideration to take into account is if there is a language barrier or perhaps a cultural difference in understanding what traditional care could look like, and ensure you have on-site staff who can assist and offer support.

Be Prepared.

Start planning early. Building a workback schedule is incredibly helpful to stay on top of planning and deadlines. Overall, we suggest starting to plan 4-6 months in advance. This will offer enough time to prepare, spread the word, enlist volunteers, and obtain the supplies needed.

Remember, this is a medical event.

Be sure to plan ahead and address patient safety issues like allergic reactions to vaccines, pets that may be more difficult to handle, and more. This includes having a stocked emergency kit ready, creating a secured area to prevent accidental escapes, as well as having towels, gloves, and other equipment on-hand to help safely restrain pets. Always check your local ordinances to ensure compliance with any paperwork or recordkeeping that needs to happen.

For pet owners, be attentive and build a sense of trust with a community that may not have otherwise had access to care. By cultivating a safe environment in which owners are listened to, community members will feel comfortable seeking the care that their pets need and deserve. 

For additional information on how to host your own preventive care clinic, see our one-pager below. 

HOW TO HOST A PREVENTIVE CARE CLINIC IN YOUR COMMUNITY

A special thank you to Banfield Associate Kylie Budney, Practice Manager for Plainville, Connecticut and Community Champion for the CT-NY market for her insights on this article. Kylie has hosted numerous preventive care clinics in her community and her insights into the planning and execution process were invaluable to the writing of this article.