RASKC commends Doney Coe Pet Clinic, a mostly all-volunteer organization who has been providing veterinary care to companion animals of Seattle’s houseless and low-income residents since 1986. Doney Coe offers clinics on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Services include vaccinations, wellness checks, ear/eye/skin treatments, flea and intestinal parasite treatment, wound care, medication management, diagnostic testing and some grooming services. 

Until the pandemic forced a temporary shutdown in March 2020, Doe Coney had consistently provided veterinary services two days per month of every month since 1986 with the only closures due to the earthquake in 2001 and the snowstorm in 2019.

When pets require medical care beyond what is provided during their free clinics, the Doney Coe Pet Clinic offers referrals to a partner clinic at no cost to the client. Recently, Doney Coe started offering special “Surgery Days” with local veterinary clinics and other animal welfare organizations to provide dentals, spay and neuter, mass removal and other critical care.

RASKC recently spoke with Marti Casey, who serves as the president of the Doney Coe Pet Clinic’s board of directors.

How would you describe the mission of the Doney Coe Pet Clinic?

Doney Coe Pet Clinic supports the unconditional love between a human and their companion animal. Our mission is based on the belief that every animal is important and that all animals deserve to live a happy, healthy life. 

How has COVID affected the Doney Coe Pet Clinic?

On one hand, COVID-19 increased the financial hardship for a larger group of community members now facing eviction, reduced and lack of income. On the other hand, COVID-19 lockdowns prevented us from offering our regular clinics, which led to a high number of animals left untreated and behind on lifesaving vaccines and care. In a city like Seattle where companion animals outnumber children, veterinary care is in short supply and expensive. An additional challenge has been the COVID related change to an appointment only system for the clinics. We cannot see as many animals. Our clients must be able to use email to schedule the appointment and then show up at the designated time for the appointment. The hope is that we can start accepting walk-ups again in June. That will only happen if we can keep the COVID 19 infection rates down!

During the pandemic we continued to serve animals in the community with innovation and phenomenal efforts by the team. Volunteer vets offered telehealth appointments. We were able to mail prescribed medications. We learned to provide care using FaceTime, Zoom and phone service with photographs from the phone camera. Seattle Animal Shelter and Seattle Humane have provided coverage when emergency surgeries are necessary and helped with vaccination clinics.  As soon as allowed by state and local directives we resumed clinics on July 11, 2020 in the Trupanion parking lot thanks to their support. 

We are grateful to our donors, who have continued to support us during this unprecedented time, animals were able to get critical care when they needed it most.  

What would you most like the public to know about the Doney Coe Pet Clinic?

Doney Coe is small and mighty. Our flexibility allows us to pivot quickly to serve in an environment that is rapidly changing. We have minimal infrastructure and keep overhead costs low. Donors can be confident that all of their support directly benefits the animals that need care. The demand for services has grown exponentially due to job losses during the pandemic.

Please describe Doney Coe’s volunteer program.

Doney Coe operated at 100% volunteer for 33 years. In order to make the organization sustainable we have added three part-time positions during the past 18 months. The veterinary professionals who share their expertise and skills are all volunteers. The team at clinic that checks clients in and follows up after the veterinary visit is volunteer. Volunteering at clinic is fun and immensely rewarding. Since being involved with Doney Coe it has been a privilege to work with so many compassionate, generous, energetic and all-around wonderful human beings of all ages, genders and races. One cannot help but be optimistic when interacting with so many positive humans that understand the value of the bond among sentient beings. 

What kind of help would your organization most like from the public?

The pandemic has changed so much in how Doney Coe operates. We used to be able to accept donations of food, supplies and medications. Animal lovers donated items after their beloved companion had passed on and knew it was benefitting another beloved animal. We are no longer able to accept in-kind donations due to public health directives and storage restraints, so financial contributions are what is most needed.

Secondly, we are always seeking veterinary professionals, who we hope will consider volunteering with our organization. You may do so by sending an email to volunteer@doneycoe.org.

Also, we are currently looking for a warehouse or similar facility where we could operate clinics with social distancing, twice a month during the cold and rainy months. Because of the generosity of Trupanion, the clinic is able to operate in their parking lot in Georgetown from May through September.

Finally, we hope supporters will share the Doney Coe Clinic story with their family and friends.

How did Doney Coe get started?

In 1985, Dr. Bud Doney was walking at Pike Place Market with his wife Nancy and saw many unhoused and low-income people with pets. They knew that the pets they saw that day were not getting the vaccinations or preventative veterinary care needed.

Dr. Doney set up a clinic that offered veterinary care for the companion animals of Seattle ’s houseless and low-income residents. After Dr. Doney passed away, Dr. Stan Coe and some volunteers, including Don Rolf, continued his legacy by starting Doney Memorial Pet Clinic.

Thirty-two years later, in 2018, the clinic is renamed the Doney Coe Pet Clinic in honor of the vision and leadership of Dr. Coe in building on Dr. Doney’s legacy for many generations of companion animals.

In what ways have Doney Coe and RASKC been working together?

RASKC had our back for the distribution of pet food to Doney Coe clients. Food for the companion animals has been provided at the twice monthly clinics for many years. It was challenging since we do not have a storage facility and being a small organization, we could not achieve the efficiencies of scale. Last March we started working with local food banks to ensure they had food for animals to distribute along with human food. It was a challenging job which demanded more resources than we had available. The RASKC Mobile Pet Food Bank was able to make food accessible to our clients throughout King County. They were able to deliver a high quality, safe and healthy product much more efficiently than we could. This allowed us to focus solely on providing the veterinary care during the pandemic. RASKC Mobile Pet Food Program meant a small organization like Doney Coe could focus on our mission of providing veterinary and wellness care for vulnerable companion animals and the humans that love them.

Is there a “fun fact” that you might like to share?

Someone recently informed me that WSU’s Vet School Dean Dr. Dori Borjesson had started a clinic to provide free care to pets of homeless people in Sacramento was she was a vet student in 1992. The Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless was modeled after the Doney Coe Pet Clinic!

Dr. Lara Kreyenhagen worked with her classmate, Dr. Borjesson at the Mercer Clinic. When she moved to Seattle, she looked up Doney Coe Pet Clinic and started volunteering. Twenty years later,  Dr. Kreyenhagen is on the Board of Directors for Doney Coe Pet Clinic and acts as the Lead Veterinarian.