SPRINGFIELD – The Dakin Humane Society announced Wednesday that it has received a $250,000 grant that will be used to establish a companion animal health center at its Union Street animal shelter in the South End.
The new center will provide veterinary care for cats and dogs and non-emergency services, including medical exams, vaccinations and routine medical and dental surgeries. It should be operational this summer, officials said.
The donation was provided by the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to help provide care for animals, especially dogs and cats.
“A generous donation like this to Dakin is unprecedented and marks a shift in animal welfare that has been happening for years – a focus not just on the animals within the shelter, but also on meeting the needs of all pets so they can stay with the families who love them,” said Stacey Price, Director of Development and Marketing.
Dr. Jack Muth, Dakin’s medical and public education director, said the donation will create another way for Dakin’s staff to care for local pets.
“I am excited about our goal to improve the health of dogs and cats by providing an additional option for timely veterinary care, including for those under-resourced in the community. We will empower families by providing a range of care tailored to their pet’s needs,” he said.
He cited a survey that found 75% of pet owners cannot afford an unexpected vet bill over $400, and 30% are unable to find the money to pay for emergency care in 30 days.
The center is seen as a way for pet owners to receive treatment in the early stages of illness or injury, reducing the animal’s discomfort and pain and preventing owners from facing a financial burden later.
Dakin’s facility on Union Street was originally built as an animal hospital when operated by the MSPCA. He closed the facility in 2007 and sold the property to Dakin, who has operated an adoption center there since 2009.
Deerfield Emergency and Specialty Veterinary Hospital plans to open a 12,000 square foot 24-hour emergency hospital on Capital Drive in West Springfield later this year. Greater Springfield has been without such a facility since the VCA Boston Road Animal Hospital in Springfield closed its emergency departments in 2019.