NORRISTOWN —  Life-saving vaccines aren’t just for humans.

Numerous organizations are coming together to ensure that your furry family member will get the proper pet vaccines he or she needs, as well as the best possible care, in a unique, socially distanced setting.

Norristown-based Finding Shelter Animal Rescue will be hosting a free, drive-up pet vaccination and services clinic for residents of Montgomery County on two Sundays in a row, April 11 and April 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown.

Services and vaccines at the clinic will be for cats and dogs only and include rabies, dhpp, bordetella and fvrcp vaccines, heartworm tests, heartworm prevention, microchipping, and dog licenses.

It’s all made possible by a grant from MontcoStrong and the volunteer efforts of veterinarians from Heart + Paw and Metropolitan Veterinary Associates.

Donated pet food will also be available for those in need.

“The first phone call I made was to the Montgomery County Department of Health and they gave us all kinds of information to have us have a safe event, as contactless as possible with humans, even though the animals will have contact with the vets,” noted Finding Shelter Animal Rescue co-founder and president Grace Kelly Herbert. “All the volunteers and veterinary teams will have PPE.  This grant from MontcoStrong makes it possible for pet parents who have not been able to afford proper veterinary care for their furry family members during this crisis to get access to these much-needed services. It is vital that we take care of our pets because even the smallest issue could lead to a huge expense later on.”

The clinic stemmed from Finding Shelter’s partnership with Interfaith Food Pantry in Norristown, Herbert added.

“They had human food to offer but we decided to help them gather pet food so they could offer it to the people who use their pantry. It was a huge success and so when the MontcoStrong grant was offered we figured so many people were hit so hard financially, especially in the Norristown area, we wanted to help our neighbors and offer something so that they could continue to take care of their pets without that financial burden. Everything is covered by the MontcoStrong grant and some very generous donors.”

The Norristown Fire Department and the Norristown Police Department have been instrumental in helping organize the event, Herbert said.

“They helped us a scout a location that could accommodate everybody and got us set up with the Elmwood Park Zoo. When I reached out to Chief O’Donnell and Captain Clowser they responded immediately and said ‘we want to help.’ On site that day they’re going to be directing traffic and making sure everybody goes where they need to be and being the extra set of hands to help us be organized.”

Veterinarians from Heart + Paw in King of Prussia, which has13 locations and several in the area, including King of Prussia and a partner practice in Rockledge, and Metropolitan Veterinary Associates in Lower Providence have been helping plan the veterinary care for the animals, Herbert explained.

“They’re the ones that helped me figure out all the vaccines we needed, all the syringes, and all of that stuff, and Metropolitan is helping us gather vet techs and veterinarians. They’re the two veterinarians we work with for Finding Shelter and I know how hard they’re working and for them to take this time on their day off is pretty unbelievable.”

Heart + Paw Chief Veterinary Officer George Melillo noted, “Heart + Paw is committed to providing top quality preventive care for all pets and their parents. We are happy to participate in this event that allows many dogs and cats to be examined, vaccinated, and protected from parasitic infections, especially when so many pet parents have experienced financial challenges during the pandemic. Our Heart + Paw family is so supportive of the local community here as well as those at each of our area locations.”

Metropolitan Veterinary Associates will also have a team of specialists volunteering on-site. “In an effort to give back to the communities that so generously support our services, we are proud to participate in this event,” noted Practice Administrator Stacey Connell in a press release.

“Our doctors have years of experience and are proud to assist Finding Shelter in helping the people and pets of Montgomery County.”

Pet parents will need to pre-register for this free service at findingshelter.org/vaccination-registration.

Services are available to the first 700 pets registered (350 per day). Pets must belong to residents of Montgomery County only.

Registration is available in both English and Spanish and there will be bi-lingual volunteers on-site to assist pet parents. Day-of registration and walk-ups will not will not be accepted due to COVID-19 safety restrictions.

According to its website, Finding Shelter Animal Rescue is a nonprofit, no-kill, volunteer supported animal rescue organization dedicated to the saving, rehabilitation, training and permanent placement of dogs and cats in need.

Founded in 2010, the shelter was inspired by Sprout, a tiny, blind Chihuahua who, even after his passing in 2012, “reminds us every day that saving the lives of homeless animals is no small ‘feet,' " Herbert noted.

Although canceled due to the pandemic in 2020, and most likely in 2021, the annual Sproutfest festival will return “as soon as it is safely possible,” noted Herbert.

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