Non-profit brings affordable pet services to low-income families

Published 8:05 am Wednesday, January 2, 2019

When people think of a veterinarian, they think of having to drag their poor animals to the nearest medical facility and paying hundreds for a single vaccine. A group of veterinarians, however, work to change that perception, bringing their services practically to people’s doorsteps.

The East Tennessee Spay and Neuter, a non-profit organization, has set their RV in front of the TLC Community Center every first and third Saturday of the month.

Stacey Heiben, projects and operations manager at ETSN, said the goal is to provide low-cost services for pet owners who need them in order to better the lives of both the pets and their owners.

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“Pets are plentiful in this area,” Heiben said. “Not everyone thinks through how much it will cost.”

During this time twice a month, the organization will provide spay and neuter services at $10 for both dogs and cats, as well as provide many other veterinary services, as long as they do not require a lab or surgery.

The non-profit had been looking at several places to set up shop for this program; they found a friend in Angie Odom’s community center.

“[Odom] helps a lot of low-income families and their food needs,” she said. “We look at our services as serving a family member, and she does the same.”

Heiben said serving animals has been her passion for a number of years, and she loves using her passion to better her community.

“I believe helping animals in our community helps the owners be better at being owners,” she said. “This reduces over-population in our communities.”

Heiben said services such as this accomplish the two goals they work towards every day.

“We are big on education and giving back to the community,” she said.

She said keeping pets healthy at an early age plays a large role in keeping them healthy as adults.

“Being able to be proactive about your pet’s health is good down the road,” she said. “The healthier they are, the longer they will be with you and the less it will cost to treat them as they get older.”

In addition to this twice a month service, the organization also sets up their “Purple Bus” at Tractor Supply Company at 210 Cherokee Park Drive every Saturday from 10 to noon.

ETSN also offers the chance to sign up for a Pet Food Pantry, which will give out pet food to low-income families on the first Friday of the month at the same location from noon to 1 p.m.

The bus is constantly moving from location to location, so anyone who would like specific details on locations and services can reach ETSN at 423-289-5548 or by checking their website at

“The services we provide attest to the good we provide without breaking the bank,” Heiben said.