Angels of Assisi Looks to Expand

Ebony was rescued from a high-kill shelter and was heart worm positive. He is now healthy and happy.

Nearly a decade ago, the Angels of Assisi animal hospital in Roanoke began life as a mobile clinic.  Staffed by a veterinarian, a vet tech, a driver, and a couple of helpers, the clinic traveled to Blacksburg, Pulaski, and other surrounding areas to treat animals in need.  In 2003 the clinic moved into its present, permanent location on Campbell Avenue in downtown Roanoke.  Along the way, the clinic, which took its name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of animals, grew into an adoption center and farm sanctuary.

The mission of Angels of Assisi is to provide animals a caring and nurturing environment, where they are treated with respect and kindness– in the same way the clinic’s namesake did.

Looking toward the future, Lisa O’Neill, Angel of Assisi’s volunteer coordinator for events, says the clinic’s vision “is to have a bigger clinic and a better adoption center for our animals that would be environmentally friendly.”

Toward that end, Angels of Assisi recently initiated a capital funds project with the aim of either relocating the clinic or expanding at its present location within the next five years.

“We’ve really outgrown this building,” says O’Neill.  “We’ve outgrown the parking lot. What we’re envisioning is a bigger building.  This building is so old, and it’s got all these nooks and crannies.  What we want to have it be is an environmentally green, cage-less building for our animals as much as possible, a bigger space, in particular, for our dogs to run outside– some green grass for them to play on.”  O’Neill wants to stay local: “we’re shopping in the area because we want to keep it urban.”

Angels of Assisi recently teamed with Botetourt Animal Control and the Botetourt County commonwealth attorney’s office to handle animal neglect and cruelty cases.  The clinic took in kittens that had been through a truck stop car wash and dealt with cases where dogs have been tied to chains, had embedded collars or had mange due to neglect.

“Typically a lot of these animals would have been put to sleep somewhere else,” O’Neill explains, “because they’re a lot of work to take care of. Our veterinarian goes to court and testifies, which [many] are uncomfortable doing. That’s really kind of a strain on us, but we realize it’s very important. Our vet’s the only person in this building that can bring any money [as an expert witness] in to keep us as a non-profit.  So when she has to leave the building for three hours to testify in court, it’s a strain on us, but it’s absolutely worthwhile.”

The clinic has also been involved with three puppy mill rescues.  “You can make a lot of money off a pure bred puppy,” says O’Neill.  “They’re very cute. Everybody wants them.  You go to the mall–they’re a thousand dollars or more.  But what people don’t see is where the parents of these dogs stay.  We have one that’s been adopted, that we took in.” He indicated the dog was in rough shape, needing among other things, “ all of her teeth removed because of lack of care.”

With mosquito season looming, Angels of Assisi will be holding a heart worm clinic at its facility the morning of May 15 between nine and eleven.  For a discounted price of $15, people can come in with an appointment and have their pets treated for heart worms, which are transmitted by mosquitoes.

By Melvin E. Matthews, Jr.
[email protected]

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