Woof-tastic! Area dogs get free vaccines

Cricket is calmed by his owner, Ricky Bush, after getting vaccinated by Dr. Frank Coons Wednesday morning at Grand Valley Catholic Outreach.



Cricket growled menacingly as Dr. Frank Coons walked up to him, needles in hand. Well, as menacingly as the three-month-old, two-pound dog could muster.

Cricket was just one of 100 canines receiving free parvo/distemper and rabies vaccinations from Coons Wednesday morning at Grand Valley Catholic Outreach.

Coons, who has been a veterinarian for 37 years, and his staff from Tiara Rado Animal Hospital provided the service to dogs whose owners may not have been able to otherwise afford the medications, which normally cost a total of $37.

“We try to provide optimum care and the minimum appropriate care” to keep costs down, Coons said. He and his team try to focus on preventative care, such as vaccinations, which is generally cheaper than treating a patient after an illness strikes.

Dog-owners came in a steady stream to get their pets vaccinated, with some dogs stopping to release a steady stream of their own.

The event was wildly popular, with Coons running out of the parvo/distemper vaccine, as well as unused syringes. Pet-owners left without the medications were offered vouchers, which could be redeemed at the Tiara Rado Animal Hospital building.

The large turnout highlighted a fact Coons already knew.

“The homeless population are pretty strong pet-owners,” he said. “Their pets mean an awful lot to them. Sometimes it’s the only thing they have.”

The concept for a free vaccination clinic to serve the low-income population hit Coons’ colleague and Tiara Rado Animal Hospital owner, Dr. Bob Marquis, three years ago. It didn’t take much convincing to get Coons and the hospital’s third veterinarian, Dr. Julie Becker, on board with the idea.

“We have always recognized that we have a wide range of client capabilities” in terms of ability to afford medical care for pets, Coons said.

The effort to provide vaccines for dogs whose owners can’t afford the medications will continue for years to come, Coons said. He and his team will offer the vaccination clinic again the fall.

As for Cricket, he didn’t take Coons’ vaccination attack personally. After accepting a dog biscuit as a peace offering, the little pup and his owner went happily on their way.


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