Veterinary clinic offering affordable care to shelters
When she graduated from veterinary school in May of last year, Dr. Leslie Interlandi didn’t expect to find many jobs in her chosen field of shelter medicine.
“There haven’t been positions,” she said. “So many shelters don’t have an onsite veterinarian.”
Shelter medicine veterinarians specialize in caring for large populations of rescued animals. So, when the Animal Welfare Collaborative and Dalton’s Indraloka Animal Sanctuary started working to establish a clinic specifically for area rescues and shelters, Interlandi saw the possibility of a dream job.
“I had always dreamed of working with all kinds of animals,” she said. “I just knew, this is my position, because it’s not only shelter medicine. I can work with farm animals, I can just help all of these animals.”
It was the Scranton Area Community Foundation that first convened the Animal Welfare Collaborative and helped raise the funds needed to open the NEPA Rescue Veterinary Clinic. President and CEO Laura Ducceschi says access to affordable veterinary care for rescues and shelters with large populations of animals arose as a primary concern.
“There was truly a lack of access to veterinary care at an affordable rate and a convenient rate and place for a lot of rescue shelters in the region of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” she said. “A lot of times it was difficult to get appointments, or maybe it was just difficult to afford the cost of it.”
Because animal welfare organizations like shelters need veterinary care so often, Ducceschi said the goal was to keep costs low. A portion of the funding from the Robert H. Spitz foundation and other funders goes toward that goal.
“You put together all of these resources and you come up with a model that provides the ability for individual exams, individual surgeries, individual spay and neuters to be provided at a cost that is truly affordable,” she said.
The clinic entrance is on the lower level of Indraloka Sanctuary’s Art Barn. Interlandi’s dog, Baby, might be the first to greet you when you walk in. The facility has an exam room, a space for surgeries, and lab equipment on site.
They can perform surgeries, ultrasounds and other diagnostic procedures on top of typical exams.
“The stuff that we have here is the stuff that you see in commercial practices,” Interlandi said. “We’re able to… centralize the funds necessary to provide this to rescues, and then multiple rescues can benefit from it, not just one.”
Because of their funding, Interlandi says they can offer commercial-level services at more affordable prices. A physical exam costs $35, vaccines are just $27 each and in-house diagnostic services range from $22-$105 according to Indraloka’s website.
The clinic officially opened in March, and Interlandi said about nine rescues from throughout the area are using the clinic regularly.
Interlandi hopes to see that number grow. Any interested rescue can fill out an application on the Indraloka Animal Sanctuary website to get involved with the clinic.
“I hope to see that we have so many animals coming through here that we have to hire multiple veterinarians,” she said. “And just become a huge veterinary resource to the community out here.”