According to a report by the Access to Veterinary Care Coalition, one in four pet owners experiences barriers to obtaining veterinary care. Of those barriers, which include lack of transportation or knowledge of nearby clinics, finances are number one. “Lack of access to veterinary care is a national family crisis,” says Kara Montalbano, who handles marketing and community relations for Middletown’s Potter League for Animals. “We believe deeply in our mission to help animals and people alike, which is why, in 2018, we set a long-term goal of expanding our low-cost veterinary care subsidies and services.” It started with last year’s acquisition of a spay and neuter clinic in Warwick, and recently, expanded with the purchase of Pets In Need (PIN) vet clinic in Riverside.
PIN is the state’s only nonprofit full-service vet clinic offering low-cost medical and surgical services for pets of eligible low-income owners. Since they opened in 2016, they’ve helped over 7,000 animals. The merger aligns well with Potter League, which has been a major animal resource for Newport County since 1929 for adoption, humane education, dog training, and outreach.
“While many may think that the mere thought of acquiring another organization in the middle of a pandemic is risky, we know that right now so many of us are facing the most challenging economic times in a generation,” Montalbano acknowledges. When PIN approached Potter League with the idea of consolidation, it was a no-brainer: “Basically, they were at a crossroad,” she explains. PIN was operating at capacity and needed admin support, and Potter League wanted to expand their commitment to the health and wellness of animals in Rhode Island – particularly as the pandemic magnifies difficulty for elderly, disabled, and disadvantaged pet owners.
At the moment, what is now the Potter League Pets In Need vet clinic is extending hours and hoping to grow their services. “We’re seeing about 3,500 clients a year,” says Montalbano, “which is pretty tremendous for a small clinic.” And, with any luck, just the beginning.