What's Ringing Rachel's 'Belle'?
Rachel Belle
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Doney Memorial Pet Clinic offers assistance to homeless or low-income pet owners. (Photo courtesy of Doney Memorial Pet Clinic)

Homeless and low-income pet owners get free vet care from Doney Memorial Pet Clinic

Seattle's Pam Taylor love's her Australian terrier, August. But he's more than just a pet to her.

"Well he's it. He's all I got."

So of course she wants to take really good care of him. But Pam is very low income, so when August had a health scare she took him to Doney Memorial Pet Clinic.

"Doney is for homeless and/or low-income folks," says Doney volunteer, Jennifer Alley. "They have to have an $850 a month or less income to meet our criteria. They have to agree to get their pet spayed or neutered. In partnership with Seattle Animal Shelter, we provide free certificates to get them spayed or neutered. They have to have a limit of three animals or less because there's a limit to what we can do."

Every second and fourth Saturday of the month, between 3 and 5 p.m., pet owners line up to get their pet seen seen by a volunteer vet.

Dr. Stan Coe has been with Doney since the very beginning, 28 years ago. He retired from his paid veterinary position in 2001, but continues to care for these animals twice a month.

"The pets are more bonded than the pets of my regular clientele when I was practicing," Dr. Coe says. "Those people are with their pet after they come home from work and [the homeless and low-income clients] are with with them around the clock."

For Pam, Dr. Coe's services mean the world.

"I couldn't have a dog unless I had the Doney Clinic. I can't even afford, really, the price to walk in the door of a vet."

Some people question why homeless or low-income people have pets at all. They say it's selfish. They wonder, if they can't afford things for themselves, how can they afford to have a pet?

"They say, 'Why would you help homeless people keep animals?' My answer is, first off, the dog would be either euthanized or in a shelter if that person didn't love it," says Jennifer. "These people love their pets more than anyone I've ever seen love their pets. They absolutely will feed their dog before they feed themselves. I've seen it myself, just donating to people on the street. These animals, they keep these people going. They give them a reason to get up every morning, to have someone who loves you unconditionally. The dog doesn't judge them. I can't imagine taking that away from someone who already has so little."

Thanks to donations, Doney's vets see about 100 pets a month.

"We do provide pet food. We provide cat litter when we have it, leashes, harnesses," says Jennifer. "Any kind of supplies people have donated. On the flip side, we provide all the vet care. Rabies vaccination, all the other vaccinations. We've seen cats, dogs, guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits."

Pam is so thankful that there are people out there who want to keep her best friend healthy.

"He's a service animal for me," Pam says. "I had difficulty getting out and being outside. With a terrier, you have to go to all the big parks and run him. I do the Arboretum, Discovery, West Seattle. Of course, because he's so beautiful, I think he's perfect, people stop and love to pet dogs. It's just such a positive aspect of my life."

If you do decide to donate to Doney, you will get a handwritten thank you note from Louis Garby, a woman in her 80's who has been writing and sending them out for 28 years.

Rachel Belle, Ron and Don Show Reporter
Rachel Belle is a feature contributor and personality on The Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio (weekdays 3-7pm), and host of Ring My Belle Weekends (Sundays at 3pm).
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Ring My Belle on KIRO Radio
Tune in to KIRO Radio on Sundays at 3pm for Ring my Belle with Rachel Belle.

Who is Rachel Belle?
Rachel Belle's "Ring My Belle" segment airs Monday-Friday on The Ron & Don Show at 4:37pm and 6:37pm. You can hear "Ring My Belle Weekends" Saturdays at 5:00pm Sundays at 3:00pm. Rachel is a northern California native who loves anything and everything culinary, playing Scrabble, petting cats and performing improv.

Please send Rachel your story ideas, weekend events and taco truck tips!



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