STOW, Ohio — Retired 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 caring for some local feral cats.
She recently took one of her cats, her “little buddy”, for neutering at a Humane Society of Summit County MABEL Mobile Veterinary Clinic. That 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 travels through Summit County, providing low-cost neutering, vaccination, and microchipping services to the community.
“It was awesome, absolutely awesome,” Jordan said. “Very efficient. It was also a great experience.
When she heard about MABEL from the Portage County APL, she immediately called the humane society to request an appointment.
“They called me back, and she took care of me and she was awesome,” Jordan said.
MABEL aims to reach a different area of Summit County 52 times a year, offering multiple clinics each week, said Kristin Branagan, director of operations for the Humane Society.
MABEL’s services are so well received that the humanitarian society will likely need to expand its services eventually, she said.
The MABEL schedule is posted on the Humane Society website and social media so people can register for appointments for spaying or sterilization services, or sign up for a waiting list if slots fill up, Branagan said. Appointments are not required for vaccination and microchipping clinics.
Dogs and cats have separate spay/neuter days, to reduce stress levels, she said. MABEL can handle approximately eight dog surgeries and 20 cat surgeries at each clinic, although numbers may vary.
But low cost doesn’t mean low quality, Branagan said. The MABEL team includes skilled workers from the Humane Society and a rotating set of regular vets.
“The vets who work on it, they’re so knowledgeable and they do it every day, multiple times a day, so they provide such a high-quality level of care,” she said. “But I think coupled with a low price, sometimes people can get nervous with it, but it’s not necessary. There’s a very talented team on board and they’re very capable.
MABEL coordinator Casey Hengle, a licensed vet tech, said residents appreciate MABEL coming to them, so they don’t have to travel to Twinsburg where the human company is, which can be difficult. for some people.
“I mean, us coming to them is half the battle,” she said.
When developing a business plan for MABEL, the Humane Society studied local prices for veterinary services and ensured that MABEL offered the lowest prices, Hengle said.
“Most everyone we’ve spoken to and programmed is just floored by the awards,” she said. “And then they find out that we’re moving.”
One of the ways the agency keeps prices manageable is by not requiring every animal to have blood tests before anesthesia, which can add significantly to costs, she said. Many full-service veterinarians require it, even if the underlying health issues don’t always show up in blood work.
Prior to surgery, the MABEL team carry out their own thorough examination of each animal and have a range of treatments ready to use.
While the animals are under anesthesia, technicians clean the ears and clip the claws, and treat the animals that have fleas, at no charge, Hengle said.
Vet assistant Cora Bowser works side by side with Hengle. She interacts with anyone who brings an animal for services, so she hears a lot of stories, she said.
“It’s going to be a good day when you have a handful of people who don’t have a problem,” Bowser said. “Most of the time everybody has something going on where they don’t have money, or a death in the family or old people who don’t have money, don’t have a car .”
The team is doing its best for them, she says.
“We want to keep pets in homes and we want to reduce the population, so anything we can do,” she said.
The humane society receives at least 50 calls a month from residents seeking veterinary care, more than half of whom seek low-cost sterilization services, the agency said. Lack of access to affordable veterinary care is one of the main reasons people abandon their pets to shelters.
To try to meet demand, the Humane Society is working on a voucher program for even lower fees, or free services, for qualified residents, Branagan said.
MABEL, which cost around $200,000, was a gift to the Humane Society from the Cynthia Parker Matthews Family Foundation, with support from donors across the community.
The humane society named the clinic MABEL to honor the Mathews family, which has a Great Dane named Mabel, Branagan said.
MABEL works in collaboration with MAC, the Mobile Adoption Center of the Humane Society. For more information about the Humane Society of Summit County or to make an appointment, visit the website.