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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The pandemic led to a surge in demand and the need to expand at Neighborhood Pets Outreach and Resource Center in Cleveland.

The nonprofit located in Slavic Village on East 65th Street near Fleet Avenue will soon double in size after a surge in requests for its accessible pet wellness services for pet owners facing financial hardships.

“Neighborhood Pets is busier now than ever, we’ve gotten a 50% increase in clients as well as our pet food bank activity,” said Becca Britton, Executive Director of Neighborhood Pets.

Later this summer, the facility is expanding to include vacant office space next door that will be used as two additional exam rooms for pets and other facility needs to service more clients.

A fundraising campaign is underway to help with costs associated with the move. Money will also be used to better secure the building, as Britton said the non-profit was robbed more than half a dozen times.

WJW photo

An eventual expansion was part of the overall goal for Neighborhood Pets, but Britton said the pandemic accelerated their plans to grow.

Although the change is happening ahead of schedule, in a sense, it’s right on time as pet owners emerge from the pandemic with different circumstances. One of the biggest challenges is related to a pet owners’ ability to pay for wellness services that could impact their ability to keep the pet in their home and out of a shelter.

Neighborhood Pets services are available to any Cleveland or East Cleveland pet owner experiencing financial challenges.

“The common thread with our clients is they are all struggling financially and they’re working so hard just to get by, and their animals mean the world to them,” she said.

The nonprofit currently serves nearly 4,000 clients, the majority live in Cleveland and 21% are seniors.

“When they can’t afford to take care of them it’s very difficult for them emotionally, so being a resource, being an open door that they can come to ask for help is huge,” said Britton.

An open door that will soon welcome even more pets inside with the goal of keeping families together.

“Being connected to a boarded-up building is depressing to our clients and to the community,” she said. “So, we’re just glad to open it back up and make it a place of community and positivity and love which is what Neighborhood Pets is.”

A community grand opening event is planned for September.