For the roughly 75,000 people that live below the poverty line in Alachua County, Florida, there is no shortage of needs they struggle to meet on a daily basis. Thanks to Gainesville’s St. Francis Pet Care, affordable veterinary care isn’t one of them.

“People in poverty can simply not afford veterinary care for their pets,” said Dale Kaplan-Stein, a veterinarian and co-founder of St. Francis Pet Care. “Most of our [patrons] have been on their own, having to deal with pet issues with no help at all.”

The clinic offers primary care services such as vaccinations, and also facilitates treatment for a variety of common conditions like heartworm and hypothyroidism. By providing treatment for an owner’s four-legged friend, St. Francis staffers know that they are giving away so much more than just free veterinary services.

“Pets bring people together and break down barriers,” Dale Kaplan-Stein said. “All people deserve unconditional love, and that’s what pets give us.”

St. Francis has spent the past five years fundraising and constructing a new, expanded clinic to better serve the Gainesville area. It’s founders hope to see the clinic’s continued success not only better the lives of animals and their owners in the surrounding community, but hopefully, leave an impact on the veterinary industry as a whole.

“The vision of our clinic is not just to take care of residents of Gainesville, but to help teach the veterinary community throughout our country, and hopefully the world, that you can have clinics like this,” said Chris Matchen, an animal activist and co-founder of St. Francis Pet Care. “This new building will make [us] sustainable. It will be here for years and years.”

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