Columbus Humane opens first-ever ‘Essential Care Center’

Columbus Humane opens first-ever 'Essential Care Center'

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Between job loss, rising costs and struggling to make ends meet, thousands of pet owners have struggled to stay afloat since the start of the pandemic. 

What You Need To Know

  • Hundreds of thousands of pets live below the poverty line in Ohio 
  • Columbus Humane has the only Essential Care Center in the country 
  • The center has a designated warehouse that distributes more than 20,000 pounds of food per week
  • The center took about $6 million dollars to complete with the use of private funding

The pandemic was hard on everyone, but it put a heavy strain on pet owners who often struggled to feed or provide medical care to their animals.

“In 2020, the demand for our pet food and supplies absolutely skyrocketed,” said Rachel Finney, who serves as the CEO of Columbus Humane. “We were getting hundreds of calls. ‘My beloved pet, I have pets that I love, but I can’t afford their food. Can you help me?’”

Finney was integral in the process, planning and production of the country’s first Essential Care Center. While planning started in 2021, it took almost years of planning and fundraising to see the idea come to reality. 

“We had to create a space that would include not only a heavily subsidized veterinary clinic but also a high volume pet food and supply pantry and a classroom to be able to teach veterinary assistants,” said Finney. “That’s an awful lot to cram into one building.” 

Columbus Humane has offered the pet food pantry for years, but now there is a designated warehouse that distributes more than 20,000 pounds of food, and helps around 250 pet families per week. The center also has a subsidized vet clinic. Pets can receive immunizations and wellness exams, but pet owners can also bring their animals to get treated for emergency services.

“So you really needed options to provide for a dog with an ear infection or a cat with diarrhea?,” said Finney. “There weren’t any low-cost options and animals are suffering at home with families who really loved them.”

Their service doesn’t stop there. Pet owners and pet lovers can participate in a veterinary assistant training program. Sixty students will dedicate 160 hours to learn how to care and treat different animals.

“The students that are here are learning by serving and helping pets and people who would not otherwise get care,” said Finney. “So we’re able to work with multiple challenges to solve each of them.”

The essential care center took about 6 million dollars to complete and all proceeds came from private funding and donors. Finney said that the love of pets is at the center of their mission. “The heroes are really those people who just love their pets and are going to great extent to get them what they need,” said Finney. 

Columbus Humane has the only Essential Care Center in the country, but hopes other locations will adopt their model in the future. You can learn more about the services they offer here.


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