Whether it’s unexpected job loss, the housing crisis, bad credit, natural disasters, inequitable systems or the global pandemic, life’s events cause many people to be displaced, unhoused and experience houselessness.
Regardless of if it’s for a day or several years, the experience can be traumatic and a cycle that isn’t easy to break. Beyond providing companionship, socialization, protection and love, many pets of people experiencing houselessness serve as a lifeline and constant source of motivation during stressful times.
In 2020, there were at least 580,466 people experiencing houselessness in America. Shelters have been reporting significant surges in the amount of people seeking housing assistance throughout the U.S., with waitlists surpassing the number of local resources available.
According to the national nonprofit Feeding Pets of the Homeless, anywhere from 10 to 25% of people experiencing houselessness have a pet. By this estimate, 58,000 to 145,000 families may not have the necessary resources to access veterinary care.
To support the incredible bond pets have with their parents, Fetch by The Dodo partnered with Project Street Vet, a non-profit that provides free veterinary care, treatment and support to the pets of people experiencing houselessness.
“Pets of the unhoused get love and nourishment but lack access to health care,” Paul Guyardo, CEO of Fetch by The Dodo, explains. “Project Street Vet fills this critical gap by providing everything from vaccinations to life-saving surgeries, so we’re very proud to support their expansion.”
Project Street Vet, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity that was formed in 2020, was once a one-man operation founded by Dr. Kwane Stewart, a practicing California veterinarian of over 22 years. Now it’s a multi-team, multi-city effort providing services to hundreds of pets annually while spreading the message of “No Judgment. Just Help.”
“For the past decade, I've been passionately motivated to impact the lives of pets and people experiencing homelessness,” Dr. Kwane Stewart says. “During my time volunteering, I've experienced some of the most genuine stories of love, compassion, struggle and hope, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.”
Project Street vet carries out its work through three different activities: “Street Vet Work,” free pet clinics and financial assistance.
To deliver their mission, volunteer vets and techs provide direct vet-to-pet services during their street vet work by walking city streets to identify individuals experiencing homelessness with pets. Once identified, free core vaccines, flea treatments and other essential care and supplies are offered at no cost, all while establishing relationships with pet parents for follow-ups as needed.
And to ensure care is even more accessible, Project Street Vet partners with organizations serving people experiencing houselessness to host free pet clinics, through which volunteer veterinary teams can provide vital care.
Lastly, the organization assists qualified pet parents with their pet’s veterinary care through financial grants. Project Street Vet has also built a network of more than 20 veterinary practices and hospitals that support the organization and assist with carrying out care.
“This work has been life-changing and truly inspiring but has also come with many challenges. Some of the pets I come across need treatment, sometimes life-saving treatment, that can be very costly, and it's hard to say ‘no’ to a pet that’s truly in need,” Dr. Kwane Staurt says. “That’s why we started Project Street Vet; to shine a light on these stories and encourage others to give back a little, too.”
Fetch is proud to support Project Street Vet and the care they contribute to the pets of people experiencing houselessness. Their work is truly inspiring; together, we aim to help them grow and reach even more pets and parents in need.
Now through the end of the year, Fetch is matching donations made to Project Street Vet dollar-for-dollar up to $101,000. To learn more, visit: www.fetchpet.com/psv.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.
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