Veterinary clinic’s open house will do more than showcase facility.

As a veterinarian, J. R. Lund sees the need every day. Pet owners who are struggling in the weak economy. Pet owners who put off all but the most necessary vet care because they don’t have the money.

“Things are tight for everyone now,” Lund said. “People are still taking care of their pets, but it’s hard.”

So when Lund and her Annabessacook Veterinary Clinic co-workers began planning an open house for the business, they decided the event needed to do more than just showcase their Monmouth clinic for horses and household pets. They decided it needed to help those struggling pet owners.

So when the clinic opens its doors Sunday, it accepts donations to the clinic’s Elizabeth Paradis Fund, a charity that helps pet owners pay for vet care. It will also accept food, toys and supplies on behalf of the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston and the Kennebec Valley Humane Society in Augusta, two of the area’s largest animal shelters.

“It’s what we do. We take care of animals,” Lund said.

Both shelters said they can definitely use the help.

Between them, the humane societies saw 9,600 animals last year, including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, rats, gerbils and guinea pigs. The shelters rely heavily on donations to stay open.

Although the economy has been weak, the shelters have not seen an increase in animals. Nor have their adoptions dropped. In fact, cat adoptions at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society actually increased.

But donations have been down at both shelters and that’s been tough.

“Assistance is needed more than ever in these challenging economic times,” said Robert Haley, executive director of the Augusta shelter.

Both shelters need cat litter, pet toys, food and cleaning supplies, including bleach. Both shelters also need office supplies, such as paper.

“That way we don’t have to go out and buy it ourselves,” said Steve Dostie, executive director at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. “It really saves us a lot of money.”

The Annabessacook Veterinary Clinic’s open house will run from noon to 4 p.m. Donations can also be dropped off before Sunday or up to a week after.

The clinic hopes to make the open house/donation drive an annual event.

The shelters accept donations at their own buildings as well. They also accept volunteers.

“The people of Central Maine have never let us down.” Haley said. “If they can’t write a check, they can come walk a dog. If they feel ‘Oh, I can’t go to the shelter because I’ll want to adopt all the animals,’ no problem. Make some cookies for me for our next bake sale.”

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