How Mitzvah Fund helps Vermont pet owners with veterinary care

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 5:55 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - As costs for pet health care and insurance continue to rise, some veterinary professionals based in Central Vermont are on a mission to save animal lives and lend a helping hand to those who can’t afford it through the Mitzvah Fund.

The Hebrew word mitzvah loosely translates to “good deed.”

“When I was little, my dad would say, ‘What five mitzvahs did you do today?’ So that has stuck with me,” said Deb Glottman, the president of the Mitzvah Fund.

For Vet Tech Deb Glottmann and Veterinarian Dr. Connie Riggs, doing good deeds is at the center of everything they do.

“We are trying to schvitz mitzvahs all over the place,” Glottman said.

The Mitzvah Fund is a pro bono veterinary service that provides animals with exams, vaccinations, X-rays and surgical and dentistry care for pet owners of disadvantaged groups.

“We chose seniors, veterans and unhoused people. Those are some of the groups that are kind of most vulnerable,” Riggs said.

“They often feel a lot of shame about not being able to provide for their animals and their animals are so important to them,” Glottman said.

Their goal is to bring basic care to animals that haven’t had access to it and to teach owners how to best care for their beloved companions.

“One animal per person per year so that that way we can kind of spread, you know, the good as far as it can go,” Glottman said.

After years in the vet industry, Glottman and Riggs say they’d noticed some people foregoing medical and dental maintenance for their pets, not out of neglect but out of a lack of funds. They say they wanted to find a way to stop money from being a barrier.

“I always felt like if I could help, and it was just a matter of they didn’t have enough money, why would I not help that animal?” Riggs said.

Now with the help of their 34-foot-long mobile clinic affectionately named “Huey,” they’re ready to travel wherever they’re needed and provide their services.

“There’s not another one in the state,” Riggs said.

“We try to go to like Meals on Wheels locations or, you know, places where a lot of people are congregating anyway. And that’s the same thing that we do for our appointments in downtown Montpelier because it’s easy access right off the highway,” Glottman said.

Those who bring their animals to the Mitzvah Fund say they’re in good hands and the group fills a hole in Vermont’s vet care network.

“Willow has been in bad need of a dental for months. She came up from Texas rescue about May of 2021 and she was in pretty rough shape. I have to say this is not a fly-by-night veterinary practice. This is the best care,” said Mary Simonetta of Worcester. “I can’t speak highly enough and it’s difficult for me to tear up, but I tear up when animals get hurt. And I tear up when I think about what the Mitzvah Fund does.”

The Mitzvah Fund says they’ll do what they can to help disadvantaged people and pets for as long as they can.

“Just try and reach as many people as we can in the state,” Riggs said.

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