Six times a year, several organizations throughout Albuquerque team up to hold pet health fairs, events where pet owners can bring their dogs and cats to get the resources they need. At their most recent fair in December, 173 pets and their families were served! Here to tell us more is Leah Remkes, partnership outreach manager at Animal Humane New Mexico.
ASPCApro: Tell us how these pet health fairs came about.
Leah Remkes: We decided to organize pet health fairs to help those who don’t typically have access to vet care. We hold these events in targeted zip codes, so we can bring these resources right to them. At each event, pets receive free vaccines, microchips, collars, leashes, name tags and pet food. We also promote our spay/neuter voucher program and are able to talk about the benefits of spaying and neutering to clients while they are there.
We get to work alongside veterinarians who happily greet each client and pet with a smile to assure them they are someone they can trust. We are able to spend the day with staff and volunteers from different organizations, clinics and schools who make the event run smoothly by being helpful and kind to everyone there. But what we really love about these fairs is that we get to talk with people who are so excited to introduce us to their pets and their families.
ASPCApro: Who is involved?
LR: These events are run by both organizations involved in the ASPCA Albuquerque Community Partnership: Animal Humane New Mexico and Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department. We reach out to veterinarians at private practices who volunteer their time at these events so attendees can meet local medical professionals in Albuquerque.
ASPCApro: Who benefits from a pet health fair?
LR: EVERYONE! Not only do the pets and their owners benefit from having access to care, but our organizations benefit as well. Attendees may have never heard of Animal Humane or Albuquerque Animal Welfare, nor thought of our organizations as places to turn to for help when they need it, but through our pet health fairs we are able to begin a relationship with those we haven’t been able to reach before.
ASPCApro: What is the staff/volunteer time commitment for an event like this?
LR: Staff and volunteers work about 4-5 hours at pet health fairs, and there are many different positions to fill. Shorter shifts are available, too. However, once the event has started and everyone is working together as a team, volunteers normally like to stay and help throughout the day.
ASPCApro: Tell us more about services offered.
Pets and their owners visit pet health fairs to receive vaccines, microchips, pet food and supplies, as well as learn what other resources are available through our shelters. We promote our spay/neuter programs, veterinary clinics, training assistance and, of course, our adoption locations.
ASPCApro: How do you promote the fair?
LR: Predominantly through Facebook ad targeting, which makes it easy to advertise directly in the zip codes where we will be holding the events. We also print bilingual flyers for distribution at shelter locations as well as where the event will be held. Our most recent fair was held at a public elementary school in the zip code we were targeting. Not only did the principal request flyers to help advertise, but she set up automated calls to the families of the children who attended the school.
ASPCApro: Would you recommend that other communities try something like this?
LR: Absolutely! These events are team-building for staff, volunteers and veterinarians because we are all working together with the goal of helping others. Pet health fairs begin relationships between those who have no access to pet care and places they can now turn to for help. Everyone feels happy and accomplished at the end of the day because they either gave or received needed resources and helped pets in the community.
If you have any questions for Leah, leave a comment and she’ll be happy to answer!
ASPCA Partnership: Albuquerque, NM
They Did It: Fosters On Wheels
ASPCA Position Statement on Keeping Pets and People Together