MOREHEAD CITY — Gwendolyn DeKoning, a widow on a fixed income, loves her small dog Toby and wants to make sure he is current on his vaccinations.

With the rising cost of veterinary care, she finds it increasingly difficult to afford them, however.

Thanks to Austin Veterinary Outreach & Rescue of Beaufort, Ms. DeKoning and 100 other area pet owners were able to get free vaccinations and heartworm checks for their animals during a mobile clinic in the parking lot of Glad Tidings Church.

“It’s a godsend is what this is,” Ms. DeKoning said as she waited in line to register. “I have to keep my dog on high-dollar food (for his health), so affording his shots is hard.”

The Big Rock Foundation sponsored the free vaccines and heartworm tests.

Those bringing pets Tuesday were able to get free heartworm tests, distemper and rabies vaccines. In addition, low-cost bordetella vaccines and deworming were available.

Workers and volunteers also provided doses of heartworm prevention, flea prevention medication and microchips at a minimal cost.

Kristin Cobb, director of Austin Veterinary Outreach & Rescue, said the group does several clinics a year across the county.

“It helps the community and animals because some people can’t afford to pay for vaccinations for their pets,” she said.

Ms. Cobb said it’s not only important for animals to be up-to-date on vaccinations, but dogs need to be on preventative for heartworm, which is spread through mosquito bites.

“The mosquitos around here are so bad that people absolutely need to have their dogs checked and on preventative,” she said. “It’s only a small pill you give once a month.”

The next outreach clinic will be Tuesday, Oct. 8, but Ms. Cobb said they are still working out the location.

“It will probably be in Newport. We are trying to get on a rotation so that we visit the entire county on a regular basis,” she said.

Those bringing pets to the clinic Tuesday said they appreciate what the nonprofit animal welfare organization is doing.

“We just moved here a month ago from Morehead, Ky., and we don’t have the money right now to vaccinate our two dogs. This is a big help,” Brittany Wagoner of Bettie said.

Those interested in the next vaccination clinic or other outreach events can go to austinvetoutreach.com/events, visit the group’s Facebook page or call 252-732-5936.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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