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FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A place where all good boys and girls in Fort Collins are welcome to get medical attention no matter their owner’s income is facing an uncertain future.
Dr. Tracy Thomas, who runs Elder Pet Care, said she first noticed an alarming trend as a young veterinarian where people could not afford to pay for their pets’ veterinary needs.
The nonprofit, located near the intersection of North College Avenue and Suniga Drive, helps make veterinary visits affordable for seniors 60 years and older.
“You cannot walk into a veterinarian’s office in this town for less than $75 – just to walk through the door,” said one woman who was at the veterinarian recently. “I couldn’t afford the other veterinarians; I mean, we’re talking $500, $700. I’m a house keeper, I don’t make a lot of money. And I’m on Social Security.”
For many seniors in Fort Collins, Dr. Thomas’ vet clinic is their only hope.
“It is wonderful to come and know that I’m not going to spend a fortune,” said another woman visiting Dr. Thomas not too long ago. “Like my little girls, they had something really serious wrong and I couldn’t afford to go to anyone else.”
Many of the seniors going to Dr. Thomas are on a tight budget, so they pay based on their income.
“When you’re on fixed income, it’s hard to take care of your pets. They’re my little rescues, and they rescued me,” said one woman who visits Dr. Thomas when something is amiss with her four-legged friends.
For more than a decade, Dr. Thomas has saved lives at the Fort Collins home – the place where she runs her clinic and nonprofit. But now, she’s worried about the future and the seniors who depend on this inexpensive care.
“The landlord is going to let us stay but the price is going up almost 50%,” said Dr. Thomas. “We don’t charge high enough prices to meet the rent requirements in this town.”
Which means the more than 3,000 seniors who depend on Dr. Thomas’ help face uncertainty, as no other veterinarian in the city offers this type of care.
“Some of them, that’s all they have. Their pet is their life,” Dr. Thomas said. “When I come to work, that’s what I think about. It keeps you going.”
Which is why Dr. Thomas said she’s not ready to retire and is welcoming any help she can get to keep her doors open.
“We just really hope that we can keep all their pet care going and keep serving our community,” Dr. Thomas said.
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