When Andrea Yowpa, DVM ’04 opened her own nonprofit veterinary clinic in May 2021, among the many congratulatory calls and remarks she received was a letter from her third-grade teacher. In this letter, her teacher said many of her young students dream of becoming a veterinarian, but Dr. Yowpa might very well be the only one who made it come true. As she will tell you, becoming a veterinarian was always the plan as soon as her young mind was able to comprehend what a veterinarian does.
“We always had pets when I was a kid,” said Dr. Yowpa. “My parents say I was about five or six years old when I first started telling them I would be a veterinarian. When we would visit or adopt from a shelter, I wanted to know what happened to the animals we did not adopt. I was always into animals in a way that I cannot really explain, it was always my thing.”
Dr. Yowpa’s roots are planted firmly throughout central and western New York. She was born in Syracuse, raised just south of the Adirondack Mountains, and recalls childhood summers at the horse racing track in Saratoga Springs. Though equine and large animal medicine are not her current fields, the thrill of watching the “crazy good athlete” horses is part of the foundation that brought her to a career in veterinary medicine. She studied Animal Science at Cornell University in Ithaca and would return to Cornell for her clinical year. While at Cornell, she met her husband, John Yowpa, MD, and after graduating from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet) in 2004, the Yowpas settled in the Buffalo area. After seven years in private practice, Dr. Yowpa felt called to transition her career to nonprofit veterinary medicine.
On what inspired her to pursue nonprofit ventures, Dr. Yowpa said: “I do not know if I directly realized it [during my time at Ross Vet], but we experienced a different way of life on the island, and we knew then there were so many animals [in St. Kitts] that needed help when the resources were not there. And now looking back on it, I was getting exposure to how much actual need there was for veterinary care and how many animals were not getting the care they needed just because of cost. It was never that people did not want to care for animals, they either just did not know or absolutely could not afford care.”
For eight more years, she worked for Operation Pets, a high-volume spay and neuter clinic before the COVID-19 pandemic opened an opportunity for Dr. Yowpa to fulfill her dream to establish her own veterinary practice. On May 3, 2021, Encompass Animal Care and Health opened its doors.
ENCOMPASS ANIMAL CARE AND HEALTH
Encompass operates as a nonprofit full-service veterinary clinic that provides high-volume, high-quality, low-cost surgical care and other noninvasive targeted veterinary care such as regular sick and follow-up appointments. Qualified individuals include veterans, students, senior citizens, and low-income households. Encompass also partners with other veterinary nonprofit organizations that serve shelter and rescue animals in their upstate New York communities, providing spay and neuter appointments for dogs and feral cats. Most recently, Encompass expanded to offer an online pharmacy for qualified individuals to purchase flea, tick, and other pet preventative care medications. Today, Dr. Yowpa estimates they complete about 70-80 surgeries per week.
“I have always had a soft spot for the shelter animal or a rescue or puppy mill dog,” said Dr. Yowpa. “They are the types that just need a chance, and hopefully in our own little way we are helping. I think there was a lack of availability of service, and we certainly did not set out to try to ‘compete’ with local practices or try to be an emergency center or anything like that. It was kind of always the idea to just be there to help give the rescues another chance and help people that were searching for affordable care for their animal to get the help that they needed.”
Dr. Yowpa created the vision for Encompass by combining what she knew working for 15 years in private practice and nonprofit clinics. “I have always liked performing surgeries, so I wanted to take what we can do at nonprofit clinics and bridge the gap in services. Things like bloodwork, x-rays, diagnostic tests, minor illness and injury treatments may not be available in a nonprofit clinic, and people trying to find those services somewhere else may not be able to afford it or get an appointment. One of the more common areas of pressure for clients in the veterinary setting has to do with money, so we hope we can help others avoid that stressor and act in the best interest of their pets instead of worrying about the cost of a procedure.”
The Yowpa’s and Encompass thank the entire Buffalo area community for helping support through monetary and in kind donations.