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Going Mobile: The HRA Mobile Veterinary Clinic

The Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) faces many challenges each day in caring for the District's animals. At the top of that list is transportation. Enter the solution: a 33-foot mobile veterinary clinic brightly adorned with the faces of a few of the cats and dogs HRA has helped in the past. But this clinic doesn't just look good on the outside.

The custom-designed, state-of-the-art, diesel vehicle is a self-contained veterinary hospital on wheels. It is equipped with a two-table surgical suite, treatment area, and cages to accomodate upwards of 20 animals at a time. It is capable of operating remotely on generator power or with a stationary electrical hook-up. It was designed with ultimate flexibility in mind and it can easily accommodate routine surgeries, dental procedures, and wellness veterinary services. It can even act as a mini teaching hospital for students participating in HRA's groundbreaking new collaboration with the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Most importantly, it will enhance the care of the animals HRA serves.

Following the historic merger of the Washington Animal Rescue League and the Washington Humane Society that led to the creation of the Humane Rescue Alliance, the National Capital Spay Neuter Clinic on L Street was closed. As a result, each day, animals requiring spay or neuter surgeries and other medical procedures are transported from the main shelter facility on New York Avenue to the HRA Medical Center on Oglethorpe Street.

This daily movement of animals across the city requires significant staff time and resources and it can be very stressful for animals. Stressed animals are much more likely to suffer from contagious disease and experience behavioral deterioration while under our care. This can lead to longer stays in the shelter and, in rare cases, it can even set the animal on a downward spiral that may ultimately result in euthanasia.

HRA's donors were instrumental in securing the vehicle and making life better for our animals.

The Philip L. Graham Fund provided a critical lead gift, joined by the KOIVU Fund and Ralph S. and Frances R. Dweck Family Foundation. In addition, more than 400 online donors collectively gave $45,000 to support the purchase of the vehicle. Paired with funds in a reserved account, these supporters enabled HRA to make this important investment.

Although the initial motivation for purchasing the mobile clinic was to address the daily challenge of transporting shelter animals for surgery, it will also free up space and other resources to increase the number of surgery slots available to the public at the HRA Medical Center. This will allow HRA to better serve the incredible demand that exists in the community for these services. The medical team is also very excited about the prospect of one day soon taking the clinic on the road to serve District residents more directly.

Through their work each day with the public, HRA staff understands that transportation can be a major challenge for pet owners too. Despite the best intentions, it can be very hard for some people to get their animals to a veterinary clinic for care. HRA already operates numerous vaccine clinics each year throughout the city through the Help Out, Partner, and Engage program and this vehicle will allow us to take our services directly to the people and pets who need them the most. The mobile clinic also has tremendous potential to help animals in the event of natural or man-made disasters.

Although it is difficult to predict all of the challenges that HRA will face in the coming years, it seems clear that the mobile veterinary clinic will be another powerful tool to accomplish the mission of helping animals and people in the District.


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