BARRIO Beterinaryo was first conceptualized by the couple Angel Flores and Dr. Aris J Alvarez in 2015 when Dr. A just came from working in Hong Kong after 10 years.
As Angel is a humanitarian and a development worker and Dr. A a veterinarian, they thought of pursuing something that they both feel passionate about. It was only in 2020 when the concept became clearer and seemed more doable for them when many establishments closed down because of the community quarantine and more owners became concerned of the health of their pets.
Others can’t afford veterinarians and treatments. Others, on the other hand, were so occupied with problems and priorities at home that they couldn’t find time to bring their pets to the vet. This became a more solid motivation for the couple to bring vet services at home to give pet owners better access.
“We officially launched around April 2021 and we got our first clients in May 2021. We first catered to friends and colleagues -- those who are animal lovers like us, members of the community. It was experimental, at first, because we didn’t know how people would react to the concept of vet home services. But then the feedback came and we were happy naman,” shared Angel.
She also said that in her experiences in humanitarian projects, she noticed how animal welfare is not always on the top priority. Most of the time, it’s just an afterthought. Barrio Beterinaryo aims to discuss and try to address animal welfare issues particularly their health through preventive care. She said it’s high time that pet owners, even those whose pets are Aspin and Puspin, understand that having a pet is a lifetime commitment and responsibility.
Dr. A said Barrio Beterinaryo’s key advocacy is focused now on preventive care and how to prevent diseases from surfacing.
“‘Yung vaccination kailangan i-administer habang puppies and kittens pa sila. We also have a de-worming program, series of vaccination, annual booster shots, including anti- rabies shots,” said Dr. A. The Philippines is not yet rabies-free as a country hence it is important to update these shots annually.
One of the challenges, he noted, in doing veterinary home service are the behavioral problems of the pets, especially those who are not used to seeing strangers. Rule of thumb, he said, is that there should be someone from the household capable of handling and restraining the pets no matter how intense their social issues may be. In the event that the owners themselves couldn’t handle the pets, Barrio Beterinaryo reserves the right to decline service for the safety of the team, the owners, and the pet themselves.
“In doing veterinary home services, we’re thinking of a sustainable solution to animal welfare issues. Some of the animal’s health issues, if addressed earlier, would be less costly for the owner and the quality of life of the pet does not need to be put at risk,” said Angel, who added that Barrio Beterinaryo aims to be accessible for the low-income families to make them realize the need for it and that preventive care is more affordable than treatment.
One benefit of a home service appointment, according to Dr. A, is the chance to have a comfortable chat with the owners without having to think of the next client lining up outside. Through this chat, they get to understand in depth what the owner and the pet’s situation is.
“We understand the challenges and the needs. We can think of more ways in the future to create schemes that can be more affordable and friendly to the communities,” he said.
Since they operated in May this year, they have been to different areas in Davao City such as in Cabantian, Tibungco, Bunawan, and even the farther areas of Toril while being based in Bangkal, Davao City. They have also gotten inquiries from pet owners in Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte, although they are still currently gathering and scheduling future transactions in the area.
“Our vision really is to be a social enterprise. In the future, we want the profit of Barrio Beterinaryo to help low-income families with pets. We don’t have spay and neuter home services yet but in the future we want to have it at a more affordable price for low-income families. We’re envisioning that for every full-paying client, a low-income family will also benefit,” shared Angel.
Dr. A’s and Angel’s tandem for Barrio Beterinaryo only proves that humanitarian approach to animal welfare is something that needs to be given more attention to. They both believe that animal welfare does not end in loving animals and rescuing them.
“An ecosystem is made of different creatures. Our resilience as a society relies on the relationship of the ecosystem -- the animals, the people, and their habitats. The way we treat animals is connected to us, humans, that’s why we are now seeing zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 transferring from animals to humans. We are all connected,” Angel said.