Autumn lied flat on her owner’s chest, her blue eyes closed and her black-and-white paws outstretched recently after her first wellness exam and vaccine checkup at the Alachua County Humane Society’s new Vaccine and Wellness Clinic.
ACHS opened the clinic last month, offering walk-in appointments for pets to get vaccines, wellness checkups, heartworm and feline tests, and prescriptions at a lower cost. Since then, customers have poured in.
Norma Overton, the clinical operations manager for the clinic, said it had to create two separate waiting areas, one for cats and one for dogs, because the clinic was so busy. Right now, the clinic is open on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and on Thursday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Autumn’s wellness checkup included a deworming examination and flea medicine for just $30 as opposed to a $130 visit to a local veterinary office with similar services, said Stacy Walker, the 6-week-old-cat’s owner.
Walker, 26, said she came to the ACHS Vaccine and Wellness Clinic during the first week of October when her parents adopted their own cat. She came back on Oct. 12 to learn more about the services offered at the clinic so Autumn could get her checkup.
“It seemed like the obvious reason to come here because of their awesome rates,” she said. “Everyone was super helpful.”
Overton said she thinks this program can benefit everyone in the community, despite his or her income, because the clinic offers the same services as other veterinary clinics at a lower cost.
“They come here and get services they are happy to pay for,” she said. “They feel good about the payment.”
Wellness exams cost between $20 and $30, and vaccine tests are free, Overton said. Vaccine prices range from $15 to $25, depending on the vaccine.
To compare, the Gainesville Animal Hospital offers free vaccines for life for community members and their pets. However, it’s a yearly program that costs $69 for dogs and $59 for cats, and pet owner’s have to bring their pets in every year for a physical exam, which costs $48, to keep their pets enrolled in the vaccine program.
Amber Young Parker has been a volunteer with ACHS since February 2014 and has fostered 20 kittens since the beginning of the summer.
She takes kittens for checkups at the clinic every two weeks, and once they are old enough, they can receive recommended vaccinations. Parker said the clinic is one of her favorite facilities to work in.
Overton said they hope to keep running this facility for as long as people need lower-cost pet services.
Walker, who is earning her master’s degree in health and wellness online from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, said the clinic helps her and her husband because they would have to pay more money out of pocket at other locations.
“I feel very secure coming here,” she said. “It’s nice to know I have other options than paying out of pocket.”
Autumn will come back in a few weeks when she is old enough to receive vaccinations, Walker said. She said she will definitely return to the humane society for Autumn’s checkups because it’s close to her house, affordable and offers great services.
“Everyone was so friendly and so welcoming,” she said. “They were all just really, really helpful.”