The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SFSPCA) is selling its longtime facility in Pacific Heights and using the proceeds to fund a new community clinic that will serve lower-income neighborhoods in the southeast quadrant of the city.
The SFSPCA announced the move Thursday, closing up its animal hospital at Fillmore and Washington streets and shifting its focus to a new community veterinary clinic in the Excelsior District, as the Chronicle reports.
The Pacific Heights hospital isn’t going away, though. The SFSPCA sold it to a team of Bay Area veterinarians who partnered with a San Francisco-based veterinary services company called Curo Pet Care, and it will continue operating as veterinary hospital.
That should come as a major relief to pet owners nearby, given that that particular animal hospital sees 16,000 patients each year.
The money from the hospital sale is being used to fund the new community clinic, which will be mainly dedicated to serving the Excelsior, Bayview, and Hunters Point neighborhoods, as the president of the SFSPCA, Jennifer Scarlett, told the Chronicle.
“It feels like we’re sort of coming home to what is our true calling, and that is thinking about those animals that are not going to get care unless we come up with creative ways to do it, and do it where it’s in the greatest need,” said Scarlett. Selling the Pacific Heights hospital is bittersweet, she said, “but I am absolutely 100% sure it is the right thing to do, for Pac Heights as well as the area that we’re trying to serve.”
The SFSPCA says the move is less about saving money that it is about dedicating resources more appropriately and effectively. Scarlett says that animals from southeast San Francisco were frequently showing up at animal hospitals and shelters with infections that can be prevented with a vaccine. Investigating that trend, the SPCA learned people living in the southeast corner of the city often had challenges with transportation that kept them from getting proper veterinary care for their pets.
With the shift in resources, the SFSPCA says it’ll be able to help the Excelsior area while still knowing the Pacific Heights area will have access to pet care.
Equal access to pet health care is something that's needed all over the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 45 out of 50 states have at least one area with a shortage of veterinarians. A study by Banfield Pet Hospital estimates 75 million pets in the U.S. may not have access to veterinary care by the year 2030.
The SFSPCA has been around for over 150 years. The organization says it wants to impact five million animals by the year 2030. And the SPCA says that impact isn’t just about getting cats and dogs into shelters and homes, but also ensuring they have access to care and a better quality of life overall.
The new clinic in the Excelsior is expected to be open by the end of summer. It will offer low-cost basic vet services like wellness checks, vaccinations, treatments for simple skin and ear issues, and medications to ward off parasites.
The new hospital in Pacific Heights reopens Monday as the San Francisco Animal Medical Center. In time, its operators plan to expand the services it offers to include oncology and cardiology, along with 24-hour emergency services. And, as the Chronicle reports, everyone who had appointments at the SPCA facility will have those appointments honored at the new facility.