Helping a Pet Owner in Miami, One Cat at a Time

July 21, 2021

Anthony and his cat

Like many of his animal-loving neighbors in Liberty City, Miami, Anthony “Tony” D. watched eagerly as the ASPCA Community Veterinary Center (CVC) was being constructed.

“I’ve lived in the Liberty City area for a number of years and watched the Center go up,” says Tony. “I looked forward to its opening.” 

A retired senior citizen who lives on social security, Tony has rescued several stray cats, four of whom he’s decided to keep.

“I originally had two cats and now, because of a neighborhood ‘mama’ cat who I’m trying to get spayed, I ended up with more,” he says.

When the CVC opened in October 2019, Tony visited and introduced himself to staff. They told him about the pet services offered by the CVC, including vaccines, preventative care, flea and tick preventative and spay/neuter surgery.

“The people here really made me feel welcome,” says Tony, who would soon avail himself of the CVC’s humane services.

Multiple Visits for Multiple Cats

As Liberty City’s neighborhood ‘mama’ kept having kittens, Tony’s cat population multiplied, leaving him overwhelmed. 

Cassandra “Cassie” Vazquez, a Patient Liaison, and Marlan Roberts, Assistant Manager of Client Operations, made a visit to Tony’s home.

Cassie with one of Tony's cats

Cassie Vazquez, left, and Marlan Roberts, below, met Tony’s cats during a visit to his home.

“We wanted to get a better understanding of Tony’s circumstances and determine how we could best support him,” says Cassie. “During our visit we provided Tony with cat food, learned how he had acquired his cats, and met SueSue.” 

Cassie and Marlan also made appointments for SueSue and another cat, Mooch, to be spayed and neutered, respectively, at the ASPCA. Since then, a third cat named Mrs. Kardashian has also been spayed. A fourth named Miss Twiggy has also had vaccines and will be spayed soon. 

Marlon with one of Tony's cats

Nearly 7,000 clients have visited the Miami CVC for other veterinary care services since it opened, and about one-third of CVC clients have multiple pets who require multiple appointments, according to Sandra Halaby-Soyer, Director of Miami Operations. 

During the pandemic, the CVC prioritized providing urgent care for pets, including those who were sick or injured. Since it opened in October 2019, the CVC has spayed and neutered 216 cats and 187 dogs. 

Jocelyn Kessler, Vice President of ASPCA Community Medicine, says increased training opportunities this coming summer and adding a third veterinarian will enable the Center to provide more spay/neuter surgeries.

“Now we’re beginning to focus more on spay/neuter capacity to help meet the need in the community,” Jocelyn says. “By late August we should see a noticeable impact in our numbers.”

Connecting to Other Services

ASPCA staff provided Tony with a crate so he could bring his cats to the CVC for appointments. To help with the other kittens, Tony was referred to Miami-Dade Animal Services (MDAS), who helped Tony trap the kittens on his property for spay/neuter services before they were placed up for adoption at MDAS. MDAS also provided Tony with food for his cats.

Tony with cats at the ASPCA

Meanwhile, Tony is working on getting his neighborhood ‘mama’ humanely trapped so she, too, can be spayed.

“The ASPCA is my second family,” says Tony, a native New Yorker who moved to Miami from California and is now retired. “The veterinarians, the reception staff, everyone is wonderful. You’re doing a great service for the people of this community.”

ASPCA Community Veterinary Center