The SPCA holds a canine clinic to help keep pets healthy.

Chucho and his brother Juanito patiently waited for their shots, like the good dogs that they are. It helped that they were in their mother’s comforting arms, and that they were being given a special treat – peanut butter on a stick.

A pair of young husky-mixed puppies were two of hundreds of dogs who received free vaccines Saturday morning from the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF SPCA). A line of cars waiting before the clinic opens stretches from Airport Way to the clinic site next to the racetrack.

Victoria Lopez, 16, said she brought Juanito and Chucho — Spanish — to the clinic to “mutt” so they could protect their pets.

“We wanted to get them vaccinated to protect them,” Lopez said, holding the two. “We heard about it, and it’s amazing that they did it.”

“We know that many people in Stockton and the Central Valley have difficulty accessing veterinary care,” said SF SPCA Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Scarlett. “Even the most basic forms of care, like vaccinations. And that’s because of the economics as well as the severe shortage of doctors. So doing these big vaccine clinics is a way to infect a large population very quickly.

Rocky stands silently as he receives the vaccine from Stephanie Clark (holding Rocky) and Janet Haubach. (Photo by Scott Linesburg)

Many volunteers from San Joaquin County and surrounding areas assisted with local agencies such as the local chapter of the Animal Protection League (APL). Stockton APL Community Outreach Director Jill Antonini says the lack of available veterinarians in San Joaquin County is as big a problem as it is in other areas.

“Veterinary costs have just skyrocketed, so clinics like this help pet owners take preventative measures to keep pets healthy,” Antonini said. “And it’s not just financial. Finding a doctor can be very difficult.”

Scarlett said the SF SPCA hopes to return to Stockton in the near future, but no date is set at this time. Among the cheerleaders making the rounds this time is Jorge Vargas, who brought Scooby, an eight-year-old Labrador/golden retriever mix, for shots.

“We heard about it on the San Joaquin Animal Shelter’s website,” Vargas said. “It’s been a big help for us.”

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