EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, Charlie Meynier and his staff at Vail Valley Animal Hospital have earned their turkey dinners. The day before, the clinic's staff puts in a very long day of free health screenings for local residents' pets.
This is the fourth year Meynier and his staff have provided the screenings since 2009, during the depths of the national economic slump. With the onset of tough times and tight household budgets Meynier saw that a lot of pet owners were no longer able to afford regular checkups for their animals. The lack of those checkups sometimes results in very sick animals coming into the clinic's emergency room.
"We want to dedicate one day a year to people without the means to (afford pet care)," Meynier said. "We picked the day before Thanksgiving to as a thank-you, a way to give back to the community."
Many of the people who come to the annual "pet outreach" day aren't regular clients, but just folks trying to take care of their families, Meynier said.
While the free checkups and screenings can be a big help to the animals that come in, other animals can benefit, too. Meynier said sick animals can sometimes sicken other animals - or, sometimes, humans - if they're carrying parasites.
Just about everyone on the staff participates in the checkups and screenings - although the Eagle-Vail clinic stays open for regular business and emergencies - and it's a long day. The clinic will schedule appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the crew will stay until all the animals have been seen.
The appointments are important - there's a bit of paperwork involved to determine eligibility. Still, Meynier said he's expecting a good-sized turnout.
"Last year we broke 100," he said. "I'm hoping we can hit between 100 and 150 this year," he said.
Despite the big day of non-stop work, Meynier said he and his staff enjoy the day.
"It really motivates the staff - it makes us feel good," he said. "We give up one day of revenue, but we gain so much more." Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.