CLEVELAND — Pets are a big part of many people's lives, but they can be an expense that sometimes is more than expected.
Neighborhood Pets in Cleveland has been helping clients for the last five years and they're about to expand to help even more.
When you walk into Neighborhood Pets, you're greeted with a lot of color and kindness. Both were a big deal for Executive Director Becca Britton.
Britton started the nonprofit five years ago after seeing first-hand the needs of residents in lower-income neighborhoods.
“Our logo is literally 'take care of each other,' and we live by that every day,” said Britton.
She worked for another nonprofit that helped dogs in animal control. At that time, she witnessed how many dogs ended up in animal control every day.
“Over 75 dogs a week,” said Britton.
That's when she knew she had to do something about it.
“That's where Neighborhood Pets was born,” said Britton. “We need something permanent in the city of Cleveland that is affordable and accessible.”
She prides herself on the family she's built and said the clients are more than friends.
They've become family.
“Everything here is based on love,” said Britton. “Love for each other and love for our pets.”
Right now, clients can come to the pet food bank, purchase toys, leashes, collars and other pet goods on a sliding scale. They can also get some basic veterinarian care. They've always planned to expand and the pandemic only expedited those plans.
“Now we are building out our new wellness center,” said Britton.
The expansion provides space with beautiful murals, a waiting area and private veterinarian rooms.
“We'll be able to expand our services,” said Britton. “So we'll be doing preventative wellness care like vaccinations, basic ear, skin and eye infections but also we'll be able to do fecal exams and do heartworm testing.”
Neighborhood Pets lives by its mission statement to take care of each other.
For Britton, that's the most important thing.
“What I see is a lot of people in poverty are treated less than,” said Britton. “Or if they're getting something cheaper or free, then they're treated less than. Our whole program is based around equity and equitable access to care, respect and kindness and acceptance for who they are.”