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Humane Society's Healthy Pet Clinic serves thousands of animals in first year
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Carly Wynne, a volunteer at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, works on socializing a cat on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its Christian-David Healthy Pet Clinic. - photo by Austin Steele

A year of low-cost pet health services for Hall County and surrounding areas is an accomplishment to make tails wag.

The Christian-David Healthy Pet Clinic at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia celebrated its one-year anniversary on Wednesday, April 24.

It has served more than 7,500 families and 11,000 pets, and has administered more than 19,000 vaccines since opening.

The clinic owes its start to Murray and Daphne David, two local philanthropists who donated a signature gift to the Humane Society.

Jaime Feroli, one of the clinic’s two veterinarians, said before the facility opened, there was little interaction between the nonprofit’s veterinarian staff and pet owners.

“Before it was just kind of quick,” Feroli said. “There was no education, it was essentially poke them and go. We really wanted to create something where we could meet the owners, talk to them and educate them.”

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The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its Christian-David Healthy Pet Clinic. - photo by Austin Steele

In addition to spaying and neutering, the clinic provides low-cost vaccines, heartworm treatment, fecal testing and other basic animal health services.

Feroli said the clinic also offers help to Spanish-speaking pet owners with its bilingual staff members.

“They’re not used to having things translated for them,” Feroli said. “As soon as it clicks that they can get their questions answered, you see the wheels turning and their eyes brighten up. They’re getting more than just the bare minimum now.”

Julie Edwards, the executive director of the Humane Society, said since opening the clinic, she has seen a large increase in the amount of people purchasing heartworm prevention and getting heartworm tests for their pets.

She finds this a great accomplishment because the number of heartworm-positive animals typically remains higher in places with large populations of mosquitoes like Gainesville. Heartworms are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Edwards said the clinic has also experienced an increase in patients. Unfortunately this has caused a longer wait time, especially during the summer months.

The clinic intends to cut the wait time, and extend the facility’s hours and days by hiring a third veterinarian. Edwards said she hopes to have the new veterinarian on the staff by late June.

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A cat plays with a toy at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its Christian-David Healthy Pet Clinic. - photo by Austin Steele

In order to keep the cost of the clinic’s services down, she said the veterinarians conduct a large number of surgeries each day.

Since the Humane Society started offering low-cost spaying and neutering in 2005, she said the nonprofit’s veterinarians have completed nearly 80,000 surgeries.

Feroli, who has worked as a staff veterinarian for the facility since 2015, implements 30 to 40 spay and neuter surgeries per day in the span of four hours.

“I kind of call myself a professional of spaying and neutering,” she said. “An average veterinarian takes about a half hour to spay, but I can do it anywhere from three to 10 minutes.”

Feroli said the shorter surgery time decreases the chances of anesthetic complications and the amount of anesthesia used.

Merissa Glass, one of the clinic’s animal care technicians, said she enjoys not only helping out cats and dogs, but assisting those who can’t afford the proper care for their pets.

“We don't’ just serve homeless animals, we like to help all kinds of people in all kinds of situations,” she said. “I think it’s amazing that we get to do that.”

Dorothy Blount took her daughter’s dog to receive care at the clinic on Wednesday. She said she is grateful to have such an affordable service.

“This is a God-save money wise,” Blount said.

For more information about the Christian-David Healthy Pet Clinic, visit humanesocietyofnortheastgeorgia.org or call 770-532-6617. The Humane Society is located at 845 West Ridge Road in Gainesville.

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