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Pets, People Get Care At WSU Spokane Clinic

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

When your pet needs medical attention, you take it to the veterinarian. When you need health care, you go to your doctor. But rarely do the two mix. Today (Friday) they did mix on the Washington State University Spokane campus with a one-day Healthy People, Healthy Pets clinic. 

Most of WSU’s veterinary facilities are on the Pullman campus, but there’s a small teaching clinic on the Spokane campus. Rarely has it been this busy.

The Healthy People + Healthy Pets free clinic was to begin at 9:30 a.m. But word had spread through the community and about 10 minutes before the scheduled opening, the lobby was already filled.

Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR
Dan brought his three dogs to Healthy People Healthy Pets clinic for shots and checkups.

A man who identified himself as Dan was sitting on the floor in a hallway. A big beautiful black dog lay next to him and two smaller dogs played on his lap.

“This is Peanut. She’s the smallest one. She’s a little rescue. She was raised in a puppy farm," he said. "And this is Pansy. She’s a little Papillon-Chihuahua mix.”

WSU veterinary students see the pet clients. WSU nursing students care for the human clients.

“Animal health is so connected with our health. We have very similar health problems across the two populations,” said Joyce Griffin-Sobel, the dean of the WSU College of Nursing.

“When people come in for their pets and they’re hanging around waiting, it’s a perfect time to see a nurse practitioner and get their primary health care. We have nursing students back there to give flu shots or hepatitis shots, check their blood pressures and blood sugars and that kind of thing,” she said.

Griffin-Sobel says the target population for this clinic is homeless and indigent people who can’t afford doctor or vet visits.

“We had a number of community organizations as well as our faculty and students that donated all of this food, the leashes, harnesses, all kinds of things for dogs and cats," she said. "Then we purchased some gloves and socks and hats for the people through a fund that we have that was donated by the family of Denny Murphy, who used to be a faculty member here at the College of Nursing.”

Darlene Keffeler heard about the clinic from her daughter. She sat waiting with her shaggy, white puppy and calmed him down while her husband was with their other dogs in an examining room.

“We brought in three of our other dogs that need shots and also they need a check up. I think it’s really great that they do this because it helps out the homeless and ones with low income,” Keffeler said.

That includes Dan, the man sitting on the floor with his three companions.

“We’re on Social Security and we can’t afford a lot of vet bills for a lot of dogs,” he said.

The organizers of this clinic weren’t sure what the turnout would be.

“We were surprised at how popular this is right away. So it was great," Griffin-Sobel said. "We intend to do this on a regular basis.”