In the Community: What Connects Us

AAHA-accredited Woodside Veterinary Hospital in Washington State operates an “Angel Fund” to help needy pet owners.

Angel Funds are used for surgeries such as those performed by
Stephanie Crowson, DVM (right), and Jessica Brooks, LVT.
(Photo courtesy of Woodside Animal Hospital)

There is nothing like one human being helping another to remind us we are more alike than we are different, connected via a humanity that brings out the best in us. So it was for AAHA-accredited Woodside Animal Hospital in Port Orchard, Washington.

“On November 19th, 2019, one of [Woodside’s] clients sent a group post asking for financial assistance on behalf of a person she’d never met. She learned that the woman could not afford a costly procedure for her pet and wanted to help,” notes the Woodside website.

“The client in need of funds was crying in the lobby,” Jordan Bair, assistant practice manager for Woodside, told AAHA. “Another client overheard the situation and sent a request for help on a Port Orchard Facebook page.” The Facebook page belonged to People for Animal Care and Kindness (PACK), a Washington nonprofit “dedicated to promoting animal welfare by providing financial support to individuals and rescue organizations in food, supplies, and/or veterinary care,” according to the PACK Facebook page.

“The [Facebook] ad was placed the night of the incident in the lobby,” said Bair. “The next morning, our receptionist started answering the phone at 8:15.” Woodside opens at 8:30. “By the fourth call, the procedure had been paid for.”

Inspired by the actions of its community, during a morning meeting, Woodside staff and practice owner Michael Van Horn, DVM, unanimously agreed to “pay it forward” and donated $500 worth of its services to PACK.

Although Woodside still works with PACK, because PACK is not veterinary specific, Woodside donates its services through its Angel Fund. The fund is 100% community funded and helps offset pet owner veterinary care costs. Because amounts collected are often small, Woodside uses such funds for critical care, to cover direct costs. Staff members donate their time. Given that, the staff elects which patients are eligible for Angel Fund monies. (Clients are required to first apply for CareCredit or Scratch Pay, medical financing credit cards.) When natural disaster strikes, Woodside extends the fund on principle.

Over the past two years, Woodside’s Angel Fund was completely depleted, partially because of the 2018 tornado that displaced many families. One of those families learned that their dog was quite sick. “With no home, food, or money, [the family] didn’t know how they were going to take care of their dog’s medical bills,” said Bair. “Without pause, [the staff] offered its time and asked if the Angel Fund could be used to cover anesthesia, medications, etc.”

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While a practice may think it has to motivate its employees with external rewards such as gift cards and time off, that’s not necessarily the case in the veterinary industry.

“The biggest, and best, outcome [with our community service] is staff motivation . . . and a sense of purpose,” said Bair. “As client demands increase, the best thing we can do as a team is get outside. . . . When we connect with the community, we are reminded of the reason why we [became a part of] this field.” 

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