This article originally appeared in the September 2020 edition of Senior Spectrum.
Options Veterinary Care has started renovation at a location on Reno’s Longley Lane that will become the region’s first nonprofit veterinary clinic for the public. It will have a special focus on those who cannot otherwise afford care for their pets. If community support in raising funds continues, the clinic will open in early October, serving Washoe County and surrounding communities. About $300,000 of the $730,000 needed to open has been raised.
These are especially challenging times for senior citizens. According to Washoe County Human Services, 25% of seniors in the county are moderately or highly isolated, making the companionship of a pet important to quality of life. Fully 10% of seniors in Washoe County live at or below the poverty line.
Options Veterinary Care will allow beloved pets to lead healthier, longer lives while also providing their senior caregivers a greater quality of life and peace of mind.
“Pets often suffer when their people cannot afford treatment,” says Denise Stevens, Options Veterinary Care Clinic Director. “By opening this nonprofit clinic, we will be able to provide veterinary care so that families can keep pets and don’t have to make the heartbreaking decision to surrender them to a shelter or to euthanize a pet with treatable conditions because they cannot afford care.”
The benefits of pets for seniors are well documented including lower blood pressure, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and improved overall health resulting in fewer doctor appointments. Many seniors also report that pets give them a renewed sense of being needed and provide companionship that wards off feelings of loneliness.
Holly Delliquadri is a senior who lives in low-income housing in Sparks. Her cat Deja Vu is in pain and needs his teeth fixed at an estimated cost of $2,300. She cannot afford this. “I looked into euthanasia because I had to,” Holly says. In the end, she couldn't do it: “He’s family.”
In its first year of operations, Options Veterinary Care clinic is expected to serve more than 15,000 pets, including 5,000 owned by seniors like Delliquadri. It will provide affordable spay/neuter and other traditional veterinary services such as surgery, dental work, X-rays, diagnostics, and wellness checks. It will also provide spay/neuter surgeries for nonprofit rescue groups, increasing the adoptability of homeless animals and improving the health of community cats including those located in nearby rural counties that have limited veterinary access.
This venture is realizing a long-time dream of cofounders Stevens and Options medical director, Diana Lucree, DVM. “The goal is to make sure animals receive needed care even when their person cannot afford standard fees,” Lucree says.
The clinic’s leadership team includes Bonney Brown, former CEO of Nevada Humane Society, and Diane Blankenburg, former community programs director for Nevada Humane Society – both from 2007 to 2013. Together they now run Humane Network, a national animal welfare consulting organization based in Reno.
Amanda Sanchez-Crawford leads the Options Veterinary Care Campaign Committee, which is working to raise funds for the clinic. Sanchez-Crawford was a long-time anchor for KOLO 8 and founder of Amanda’s Amazing Animals. The committee also includes Mark Robison, former Reno Gazette-Journal engagement editor, and Patty Fabre-Johnson with RE/Max Professionals. For more information or to donate, visit www.optionsveterinarycare.org.