A nationwide program that provides free services to pet owners in impoverished neighborhoods aims to move into Mountain View later this year, according to the Alaska SPCA.
Pets for Life — a partnership between the Humane Society of the United States and PetSmart Charities — began as a pilot program in four major U.S. cities several years ago. Now, the grant-funded outreach initiative is spreading to other communities across the country. It offers free spay and neuter services, vaccinations, food, equipment or other medical services: Whatever a pet owner might need.
“Really what this is about is a complete change in attitude,” said Kay Ashton, executive director of the Alaska SPCA. “If we can keep that family with that dog or that cat, that’s our goal. It’s best for the dog and it’s best for the family.”
By providing health services and information, Ashton said, the program aims to remove barriers to lifelong pet ownership. Pets for Life is all about keeping owners and animals together — no matter the economic challenges.
In Anchorage, Mountain View was selected to participate after an extensive study process. There’s only one veterinary clinic in the community. Lower incomes and other demographic factors make it the perfect place to launch Pets for Life, Ashton said.
Once the charity initiative kicks off in Anchorage, services will be available to anybody living in Mountain View north of the Glenn Highway, according to the Alaska SPCA. If a dog needs a leash and collar, Pets for Life can make it happen, Ashton said. If a cat needs a ride to the vet and a round of vaccinations or even surgery, the charity can do that, too.
Volunteers will go door-to-door, meeting neighborhood pet owners and spreading the word about Pets for Life. The Alaska SPCA is also in the process of hiring a program coordinator, Ashton said: You can learn more and apply for the position here.
It’s not a one-time thing. Pets for Life looks to operate on a long-term basis, providing free support to neighborhood pet owners for years.
“This will be continuing,” Ashton said. “We’re not coming to visit, we’re moving in.”