Try 3 months for $3

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As Americans spend more money on their pets' health, the city of Minneapolis is trying to help dog and cat owners.

Four times a year Minneapolis holds a low-cost vaccination clinic for the pets of Minneapolis residents. They offer rabies and distemper vaccines, along with microchipping. The cost for all three together is $25.

"If you were at a normal clinic getting probably all three of those things done, with the exam fee, you're probably looking at at least $150," said Danielle Joerger, the volunteer and community engagement coordinator with Minneapolis Animal Care and Control. "We do find that there's areas that people have a hard time affording keeping their animals current on their vaccines. Rabies is required by law and the distemper combination is something that helps prevent a lot of different illnesses animals can get, for both cats and dogs."

The program has become very popular. On a recent Sunday, people lined up across the clinic's parking lot, standing at orange cones, which kept most of the dogs from interacting with each other. Clinic workers would treat a total of 118 animals that day, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

DeVonne Reinhardt-Bock and her family brought their three dogs for vaccinations.

"Pet care costs are really high when you have three pets," said Reinhardt-Bock, pointing to one of her dogs. "This girl here had glaucoma a few years ago, so we had to have both her eyes removed." She said another one of her dogs had a "liver issue last year that cost us a couple grand, so if we can save on vaccinations, we are here."

Ausar Lovestar brought Horace on the bulldog's six-month birthday after hearing about the clinic from friends.

"So, I took advantage of it. They've got a really cool program and it's affordable," he said. "We love dogs here in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities, so this is great for us."

Joerger said it's also good for the health of other pets, too.

"And we do see a high prevalence of parvovirus which is something that is covered in that distemper vaccine for dogs, so we're trying to make sure people get that and keep their pets healthy and their community healthy," she said.

Americans are more than willing to shell out for their pet's health. According to research firm NDP Analytics, the median spending on dog or cat medicine over the animal's lifetime is more than $5,000. Purdue University estimates that veterinary prices have risen by more than 10% since 2015.

The shelter will hold another clinic on May 19.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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