By Kathy Chouteau
The unconditional love local dogs give their homeless owners will be returned to them in kind when the Bay Area Rescue Mission (BARM) partners with the El Cerrito Pet Hospital to offer a “Free Vet Clinic” Sun., May 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The one-day clinic in the BARM’s parking lot at 123 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond will offer unsheltered community members’ four-legged friends free exams, shots and nail trims—crucial care for pets that otherwise might not receive proper veterinary care due to associated costs.
BARM CEO Bram Begonia said that “for the unsheltered who have dogs, these four-legged companions mean everything to them” and that, for many, it is their only real friend that they can depend on for “unconditional, nonjudgmental love.”
Dr. Syed N. Naqvi, D.V.M—owner of El Cerrito Pet Hospital—and longtime worker Shirley Young—conceived of the idea for the Free Vet Clinic, which aside from vet services, will distribute doggie bags stocked with products donated by vendors.
Young said the pet hospital observes a lot of homeless people with pets that are often not vaccinated. In offering this service, she said they “can help prevent the spread of disease in our community and help save the lives of these treasured pups.”
BARM said that the clinic is also partnering with Nevada-based nonprofit Feeding Pets for the Homeless, which is covering the cost of vaccines and “will provide funds for ongoing pet care for approved dogs that are found to need further care.”
The Richmond Police Department is also pitching in on the effort by helping BARM distribute fliers to local homeless encampments to inform these pet owners about this excellent resource for their animals.
BARM provides emergency shelter, meals, recovery programs, spiritual counseling, education, job skills training and transitional services, youth intervention, a food pantry and mobile outreach to community members in need. Learn more about the organization via its website or call 510-215-4555.