Miami Community Veterinary Center Kicks Off Third Year Providing Affordable Care for Liberty City’s Pets
When the ASPCA opened its Community Veterinary Center (CVC) in Miami in 2019, the pioneering program was responding to a desperate need for affordable and accessible veterinary services in Miami-Dade County, especially in Liberty City—a critically underserved community with limited options for veterinary care.
The Center offers partially and fully subsidized basic and preventive care to cats and dogs, including vaccinations, spay/neuter surgeries and treatment for infections and other minor issues.
In 2021, there were 5,719 visits to the CVC—an average of 24 per day. A total of 3,391 patients—some who visited more than once—received primary pet care and vaccines. An additional 837 animals were spayed and neutered.
“Providing access to veterinary care has made a huge impact on pets and people in the area,” says Sandra Halaby-Soyer, Director of Community Medicine Operations in Miami. “And we’re off to a busy start in 2022.”
The stories of Debo, Bullet, Raya and Freckles illustrate the amazing impact of the Miami CVC’s work on local pets and the people who love them.
Fifty-three percent of the Center’s clients live in Liberty City, a community of approximately 25,000 households including resident Haywood M.
On January 26, Haywood brought in Debo, his beloved seven-year-old Belgian Malinois, after Debo cut his paw on a metal screen. Haywood had wrapped Debo's paw with a sock and tape to stop the bleeding.
Dr. Victoria Koehler and her medical team sedated Debo before clipping, cleaning and suturing the wound on his right rear paw.
“Debo was a good sport,” says Maria Christoforidis, Patient Liaison. “He returned a few days later for a recheck and a bandage change.”
Haywood was grateful for the service that returned a healthy Debo to his loving care.
“I am so happy the ASPCA was available to us,” says Haywood, adding that he was surprised by how receptive Debo was to the medical treatment. “Your team is professional and compassionate. They made me feel very welcome and confident in the level of care we received.”
Another Liberty City resident, Rajai S., brought his young pit bull mix, Bullet, to the Center for treatment after Bullet was attacked by another dog.
Dr. Koehler worked quickly with the medical team to clean and stitch wounds on Bullet’s snout and neck. She also administered vaccines.
Rajai returned with Bullet a few days later to receive boosters and have his stitches removed.
“Bullet is back to his old self,” says Caitlin Abreu, Patient Liaison. “He looks great now that he’s had time to rest and heal. And he’s running around like the firecracker puppy he is.”
On January 14, the CVC staff found an injured kitten in front of the building.
“She looked like she had been hit by a car,” says Maria. “Thankfully, she had a registered microchip and was one of our Liberty City patients.”
Raya’s right front leg and left hind leg were fractured. Drs. Victoria Koehler and Christina Hawkins applied splints, and Raya was reunited with her pet parent, Alfredo M.
Alfredo brought Raya back periodically for evaluations and bandage changes, which were administered by Certified Veterinary Technicians Jennifer Klotch and Jenny Ramirez, and Senior Veterinary Assistant Ossie Jones. After two weeks, Raya was able to walk, and her bandages were removed a few weeks later.
“I was amazed at how well she recovered,” says Alfredo. “She was even able to jump on countertops.”
In addition to helping owned pets, the CVC’s team recently assisted a client who had found a homeless neonate tortoiseshell kitten and named her Freckles. But the frisky feline wasn’t homeless for long.
“With the resources we were able to offer the client, she ended up keeping Freckles,” says Caitlin.
Marlan Roberts, Client Operations Manager, showed the client how to bottle-feed Freckles and keep her healthy until she was old enough to be vaccinated.
“Freckles was a fighter,” says Caitlin. “And because we were able to provide her finder with support and supplies, she now has a safe and loving home.”