STOW, Ohio — Retiree Diane Jordan of Ravenna and her husband live on a fixed income. But she is committed to providing good health care for her four rescue cats, she said, and looking after some local feral cats.
She recently took one of her cats, her “little buddy” to be neutered during a Humane Society of Summit County MABEL Mobile Veterinary Clinic. On this day, the clinic was set up in the parking lot near Pet Supplies Plus in Stow.
MABEL, which stands for “making animals better and enriching lives,” is a 28-foot-long, self-contained mobile veterinary clinic that moves around Summit County providing low-cost spay/neuter, vaccination and microchipping services to the community.
“It was awesome, absolutely awesome,” Jordan said. “Very efficient. This has been a great experience as well.”
When she learned about MABEL from Portage County APL, she caid she called the humane society right away to request an appointment.
“They called me back, and she took care of me and she was awesome,” Jordan said.
MABEL aims to eventually hit a different area of Summit County 52 times per year, offering multiple clinics each week, said Kristin Branagan, the humane society’s director of operations.
MABEL’s services are so well received, the humane society will likely eventually need to expand services, she said.
The MABEL schedule is publicized on the humane society website and on social media so people can sign up for appointments for spay/neuter services, or get on a waiting list if slots fill, Branagan said. Appointments aren’t necessary for vaccination and microchipping clinics.
Dogs and cats have separate spay/neuter days, to keep stress levels down, she said. MABEL can handle about eight dog surgeries and 20 cat surgeries at each clinic, although the numbers can vary.
But low cost doesn’t mean low quality, Branagan said. The MABEL team comprises trained humane society workers and a rotating set of regular veterinarians.
“The vets that are working this, they are so skilled and they do that every single day, multiple times a day, so they are providing such a high-quality level of care,” she said. “But I think paired with a low-cost price sometimes people may be nervous with that, but there's no need to be. There’s a very talented team on board and they are very skilled.”
MABEL coordinator Casey Hengle, a registered vet tech, said residents appreciate that MABEL comes to them, so they don’t have to drive to Twinsburg where the humane society is located, which can be tough for some people.
“I mean, the fact that we're coming to them is half the battle,” she said.
When developing a business plan for MABEL, the humane society researched local pricing for vet services and made sure MABEL offered the lowest prices, Hengle said.
“Most everybody we've talked to and scheduled are just floored with the prices alone,” she said. “And then they find out that we move around.”
One way the agency keeps prices manageable is by not requiring every animal to have pre-anesthesia blood work, which can boost the cost substantially, she said. Many full-service vets require it, even though underlying health issues don’t always show up in bloodwork.
Before surgery, the MABEL team conducts its own thorough exam of each animal and has an array of treatments at the ready.
While animals are under anesthesia, the techs clean ears and trim claws, and treat animals that have fleas, at no charge, Hengle said.
Veterinary assistant Cora Bowser works side-by-side with Hengle. She interacts with everyone who brings an animal for services, so she hears a lot of stories, she said.
“It’ll be a good day when you have a handful of people that aren't having an issue,” Bowser said. “Most of the time, everyone has something going on where they don't have money, or a death in the family or some elderly people that have no money, have no car.”
The team does its best for them, she said.
“We want to keep pets in homes, and we want to keep the population down, so anything we can do,” she said.
The humane society gets at least 50 calls a month from residents seeking veterinary care, with more than half looking for low-cost spay/neuter services, the agency said. Lack of access to affordable veterinary care is one of the main reasons people surrender their pets to shelters.
To try to keep up with demand, the humane society is working on a voucher program for even further reduced fees, or free services, for qualified residents, Branagan said.
The humane society named the clinic MABEL to honor the Mathews family, which has a Great Dane named Mabel, Branagan said.
MABEL works in conjunction with MAC, the humane society’s Mobile Adoption Center. For more information on the Humane Society of Summit County or to make an appointment, visit the website.