I'm a lucky person. I have a beautiful family. A wonderful dog. A great home in a desirable Denver neighborhood. Good health. An enjoyable job.
Sometimes, however, it's easy to become consumed with small, daily stresses and forget the many ways I've been blessed. Easy to feel overwhelmed about the lack of time to go on family walks, to get my oil changed, to take the dog to the vet. Recently, however, I was reminded of just how lucky I truly am. Lucky to have a family to walk with, a car to get the oil changed in, and the financial ability to take my dog to the veterinarian for preventive care checkups every year. This reminder came to me while I was volunteering for a local program called 9PetCheck--a collaboration between Denver's 9NEWS, the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, and more than 70 local veterinary clinics. The goal of the annual program is to help pet owners who are struggling financially get free wellness checks and rabies vaccinations for their dogs and cats.
When I arrived at the 9NEWS studios, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. But, it wasn't long before I was answering a constantly ringing phone, along with 30 other volunteers, talking to people who couldn't afford to take their pets to the veterinarian. Our job was to find a participating veterinary clinic in the database that was as close as possible to where the individual lived, then book up to two pets per caller for wellness checks and/or rabies vaccinations. Each and every call was heartbreaking. Over and over again I heard tales of pets who hadn't seen veterinarians in years, of people who had been laid off and had to decide what was more important: food, clothes, rent, or medical care for themselves and their pets. The appointments were only on two days--the following Saturday and Sunday. Many of the callers were so desperate they accepted appointments at clinics that were more than an hour from their homes, changed any plans they had for that weekend to be sure their sick dogs or cats could be seen.
After two hours of taking phone calls back-to-back, we had secured 1,000 appointments. The following weekend, 1,000 pets that would otherwise not be able to see a veterinarian, were able to get the health care they needed and deserved.
That night, I felt fantastic and horrible at the same time. Fantastic because I was able to help such a wonderful cause. Horrible because I take so much for granted. My experience volunteering for 9PetCheck made me realize how lucky I truly am, in this world full of people and pets who can't even go see a doctor when they need to.
Are there any programs in your community to help underprivileged pet owners?
Photo: Before the calls began, the volunteers were given a tour of the 9NEWS studios. This is me in the "9 Backyard" where much of the weather broadcasts take place.