Second Chance expands vet care to help keep pets with people

Shari DePauw, DVM, helps Penny, who was found by the side of the road with a poorly healed hip fracture, starving, with her puppies. With them is Elizabeth Kirwan, Second Chance shelter manager. 

Pets have proven to be a lifeline during the pandemic, providing comfort at a time when social interaction has been curtailed. But pets need care too, and that can be expensive.

Ridgway Second Chance Humane Society has expanded its Community Medical program to include certain treatments to help more people who are struggling financially to be able to keep their pets well.

“When we started it last year, the focus was on wellness — vaccinations, heart worm, microchips and wellness exams, but it was more preventive care, versus actually doing treatment,” Second Chance Executive Director Kelly Goodin said. “ … When we started this program it was really our hope that it would be well-received and we could grow it up quickly. We’ve definitely seen the need.”

Income-eligible pet owners can now have access to treatments, including dental care, blood work and end-of-life care for their animals, instead of being referred elsewhere for services they might not be able to afford. With more equipment and veterinarian Shari DePauw on board, those services are now possible through Second Chance’s Community Medical program.

“It’s right in line with our vision for the program. Our next big goal is to be able to do X-rays in-house and orthopedic kind of surgeries. But we can handle a lot now and reduce costs,” Goodin said.

Second Chance wants to make sure people don’t have to surrender their pets because they cannot afford costly care.

“Especially right now, when they’re so needed. They are giving people support right now during our continued pandemic. We wanted to allow that connection with pets and people for a lifetime. That’s really where these programs are,” Goodin added.

DePauw recently came to the region from the Front Range, where she was part of the community medical clinic for the Longmont Humane Society.

“What she does for us is very minimal, compared to what she’s been used to doing over there,” Goodin said. “She has the skill and the experience. She’s a big part of the reason we’re able to expand our services. She really knows how to do this and do it affordably, and make sure people get the care they need.”

Appointments with DePauw are available on Fridays, for now, and may be made by calling 970-626-2273. Although services have expanded, Second Chance does not provide emergency veterinary care and people whose pets have an urgent, life-threatening condition should contact another veterinarian immediately.

The COVID pandemic delayed the Community Medical program’s start and the wellness clinics ended a little early last year, when the veterinarian working with Second Chance left. All the same, Second Chance assisted 380 pets in 2020 and Goodin expects that to grow.

Second Chance is raising funds to help meet that demand and has set a goal of $20,000. It is also raising money for shelter medical expenses, when animals that are taken into the shelter come in sick or injured. Currently, three shelter pets need orthopedic surgeries and to keep the shelter medical expense fund from running dry, Second Chance is looking to raise $10,000.

Second Chance is also continuing its Pet Pantry program for low-income residents of Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties, which has been providing pet food through the pandemic. Second Chance can even help have the food delivered to those who are housebound.

To donate to any of the programs (or to check out adoptable pets), visit adoptmountainpets.org. Visit the same site for information if you need assistance.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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