Veterinarian Wendy McClelland has no doubt. Homeless people truly love their pets, but they can’t always get their dogs or cats much-needed medical care while struggling to meet their own basic needs.
And, while outreach program are focused on helping homeless people, their animals tend to be overlooked.
“These cats and dogs are family for them, and we wanted to make sure they get the veterinary care and medicines they urgently needed, regardless of their financial or housing situation,” Dr. McClelland, founder of Vets To Go in Calgary, Alberta explained in a statement.
That’s why Vets To Go took part in the Calgary’s recent free vet care and pet supplies day for the homeless, helping 19 animals along the way. The vets and their staff took their mobile clinic to the Mustard Seed, a downtown shelter where 13 dogs and six cats were examined and vaccinated as well as treated for everything from ear mites to fleas and intestinal parasites.
“I am very, very happy to have brought Bailey and Shadow to the pet clinic today,” Sue Layton, who brought her two dogs to the wellness clinic says, said in a statement. “Not only did the staff care for my dogs, they hugged me and smiled at me.”
Pets of the Homeless, a U.S.-based non-profit suggests that between 5 and 10 per cent of the homeless have pets, but in some places almost a quarter have an animal companion. The group also says homeless pet owners shouldn’t be derided for having an animal. But rather, pet ownership gives them purpose and responsibility while receiving friendship, comfort and love in return — all things they might not otherwise have.
In a news release, John Rook, director of programs and strategic initiatives for the Mustard Seed, applauded the partnership as one of “care and compassion.”
“It’s amazing what we can do when we collaborate with other organizations in the community to provide support to those who need it most,” he said after the May 31 event.