Veterinarians employ different approaches to care for the country cat and the city cat
Her community is mostly rural and low-income—the Section Eight housing capital of the county, she says. "I know what they're up against with their finances," Burk says. Within a five-mile radius of Middletown, the median household income is less than $50,000. Burk says not a day goes by when she's not talking to someone about how to manage payment or provide the best treatment they can within their means. "Nevertheless, people try to help their pets," she says.
In a former steel town where the largest employers are now big-box stores like Walmart, Sears and Target, Burk has realized that to get more pet owners through the door, she has to play the big-box game. "If you offer something at even a little bit of savings, even if it's not a lot, people really pick up on that," she says. The reality is that people see value in discounts, coupons, "BOGO" (buy one, get one) deals and loyalty rewards.
Burk holds the vaccine clinic once a month and is already seeing it generate new clients. There is no exam and therefore no exam fee, just the cost of the vaccine. Right now she says the clinic is drawing about 80 percent dogs, but she hopes it will catch on with more cat owners as well.
As with the vaccine clinic, Burk knew she would be providing a needed community service—at the very least, the neuter day might put an end to the seemingly endless litters of black-and-white kittens being dumped in the area. "Somebody's tomcat was having a field day out there," she jokes. But it was also a deliberate move to get cats she knew were not getting regular—or any care—into the exam room.