COURTESY GATEWAY PET GUARDIANS
A rendering of Gateway Pet Guardians' facility in East St. Louis.
Nonprofit animal shelter Gateway Pet Guardians is opening the first vet clinic in East St. Louis.
They call it the Healthy Pet Clinic, and its purpose is to provide equitable access to a "resource desert" for pet goods and services. The facility is in the former Miles Davis Elementary School, 725 N. 15th Street, next to Interstate 64 at the St. Clair Ave. exit, about five minutes from downtown St. Louis.
The clinic fits inside the 54,000-square-foot building, alongside Gateway's other services, which include an adoption center and shelter, grooming facility, and low-cost pet store.
Jamie Case, executive director of the organization, says the clinic was originally set to open in last week of March for Saturday vaccine appointments.
When COVID-19 hit and a stay-at-home order was enacted, the organization did the best it could to keep employees at home. This meant emptying out the shelter Gateway runs. They put out a call for foster homes and got 350 applications within the first five days. With the shelter empty, the organization was able to focus on the inevitable effects of COVID-19 in East St. Louis: Families they serve were financially struggling and would be soon be in need of affordable vet care in order to keep their pets at home.
"We decided to pivot and open our clinic more days a week. So now we're open two days a week [Tuesdays and Thursdays], with drive-thru vaccines on Saturdays," Case said.
Gateway Pet Guardians was founded in 2004 with a primary focus on supporting the efforts of a woman who would feed the strays in the area daily. Four women saw a need for a spay and neuter service in East St. Louis to address the growing number of strays. When they started fixing the pets, the number of strays dwindled.
Case says after they saw their work making a difference, they knew there was more to be done to address the need for pet care.
"We quickly realized that this is a community that is void of resources, there's no vet, no pet store and not even grocery stores that offered quality pet food," Case says.
The clinic is available for all pet owners, regardless of their zip code. Everyone is welcome to make an appointment, and they are always looking for volunteers and foster homes.
Go here for pricing information or to make an appointment.
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