The very first pet in my life was a shorthaired, grey tabby cat that we named Rocky for his "Rocky Raccoon" like stripes.
Neither my mom nor I remember how he came to be ours, most likely he was a neighborhood stray, who like many others through the years, decided to stay.
I was only 5 or 6 years old then, but I remember how excited I was to have a pet of my own to love. I also remember how sad I was when Rocky didn't come home one day. And then for a few days.
When he finally did return home, he was broken and bloody, we assumed after a too-close encounter with a passing car. I cried while Rocky was taken away, not to return this time.
My family didn't have much money, so veterinary care for Rocky was limited or non-existent. If he could have been saved, we couldn't afford the veterinary fees anyway, so on to the rainbow bridge he went.
My mother and I welcomed several pets into our home in the years to follow. All of them wandering or abandoned pets that we just could not turn away.
Thanks to what was then the Aiken SPCA, we were able to have them all spayed and neutered for an affordable fee.
Outside of that, due to the expense and our very modest income, veterinary care was limited to maybe once per year vaccinations and extreme emergencies which thankfully, were few and far between.
We were happy to provide them with shelter, food, warmth and lots of love, and for many people in our community, those basic needs are all they are financially able to provide for their pets.
Fortunately today, the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare's Clinic has expanded its menu of services to include not just spay, neuter and vaccinations; but also testing and screening services, nail trims, ear cleanings, deworming and wellness exams.
Many of these services are available without an appointment and Saturday hours are now available for the weekday workers.
We have two new veterinarians on staff who are committed to providing you and your pet with compassionate, affordable veterinary care.
Dr. Rick Williams joins us from Palm Springs, CA and Spokane, WA where, for the past 12 years he provided veterinary relief services for private and corporate veterinary practices. During this time, he also operated a mobile vet practice in each state.
Dr. Williams is a graduate of the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine and has been a specialist and diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) in equine practice for 20 years.
He has served as a vet for Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and several large thoroughbred farms in Washington state.
Dr. Jason Wright joins us from Oklahoma, where he spent much of his youth volunteering at the Tulsa Zoo in the reptile and bird departments.
Dr. Wright completed his bachelor's degree in biology at the University of Miami and his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Oklahoma State University.
While living in Florida, Wright spent his free time catching and photographing reptiles in the Everglades. During this time, he also began volunteering with local shelter and TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) organizations.
During his veterinary training, Wright developed special interests in pathology, surgery, and shelter medicine.
Support staff for the clinic includes the very friendly and helpful Heather Tager at the reception desk along with passionate veterinary assistants Sherry Allocco and Courtney Elaine Arbaugh.
Since their arrival in September, both Dr. Williams and Dr. Wright, along with their support staff, have provided excellent care to the pets in our shelter as well as to our client's pets and are dedicated to continuing an exceptional level of service to the animals in our community.
We hope you will consider allowing our staff to care for your pet. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment for spay or neuter services, please call 803-648-6863, ext. 1 for the clinic.
For vaccinations and other services, just walk right in. The clinic is open Tuesday - Friday from 10am until noon, and 1pm until 4pm. Saturday hours are 9am until 3pm.
A full list of services and prices is available on our website: www.LetloveLive.org/clinic.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She previously held the role of Volunteer Coordinator and has a background in business administration. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her husband, Tom, mother, Cheryl and three adopted cats: Bastian, Eddie and Luna.