Every other Saturday at noon in Seattle, Washington State University veterinary students and alumni are among those providing dozens of pets and their owners with veterinary care the animals would otherwise go without.
The line varies from weekend to weekend. Just how many animals receive care in a day can range from a dozen to several dozen.
The gathering place, the Doney Coe Pet Clinic, has offered pets from low-income families in the Seattle area care for more than 35 years. In addition to aiding animals in need, the Coug-founded clinic allows WSU veterinary students to complete required clinical hours for their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
“Emotionally, it was really empowering; it helped me remember the goal behind all of veterinary medicine, which is not just helping animals, but helping the community and helping strengthen that community and the human-animal bond,” said Haley Heater, a fourth-year veterinary student.
“…it helped me remember the goal behind all of veterinary medicine, which is not just helping animals, but helping the community…”Haley Heater
Fourth-year WSU veterinary student
Initially opened by WSU alumnus Charles Doney (‘45 DVM), the clinic was taken over by former WSU Alumni Association President and Cougar alumnus Stan Coe (‘57 DVM) in 1986 following Doney’s death. At the time, the clinic had been open for about a year.
Coe promised to continue the clinic in honor of his friend. He established the clinic as a nonprofit organization.
The Doney Coe Pet Clinic operated for much of its 35 years out of Union Gospel Mission in Pioneer Square. It is now held at the Third Street Animal Wellness Clinic at 1919 Third Ave. in Seattle thanks to the generosity of owner and WSU alumnus Mona Radheshwar (‘10 DVM), who is also a Doney Coe Pet Clinic volunteer.
Like many other WSU veterinary students before her, Heater volunteered at the Doney Coe Pet Clinic while on a shelter medicine rotation at Seattle Humane.
“It’s heartwarming, some of these people really struggled to get to us, but they did it so their animals could get cared for,” Heater said.
Of the six animal patients Heater saw during the four-hour clinic, she recalls one dog, a mixed-breed named Wendy, with hypothyroidism and chronic kidney disease. Wendy also has chronic allergy problems that resulted in inflamed and itchy skin. To make matters worse, her owner struggled with mobility, and, in addition to not having money for Wendy’s care, he struggled to get her to a veterinarian.
“We were able to collect blood, urine, skin and ear cytology samples while cleaning her up and making sure she was sent home with all the medications she needed,” Heater said.
The clinic has left a lasting impression on Heater, and she’s not the only one.
“Some people had been waiting in line for several hours. It’s a picture in my mind that I won’t ever forget,” said Dustin Clements, a fourth-year veterinary student “They want what’s best for their pets just as much as anyone else and it was an honor to be able to provide care that they would otherwise not be able to receive.”
In addition to students, Assistant Professor Katie Kuehl, who teaches the shelter medicine rotation at Seattle Humane, and other WSU veterinary alumni are also heavily involved.
“The WSU partnership has been a keystone of Doney Coe Pet Clinic since 1986,” said Marti Casey, president on the board of directors for the clinic. “Dr. Kuehl and the students make the clinic a better place with their compassion, expertise, and enthusiastic presence.”