Sun. May 19th, 2024
Chrystal and her dog Dizzy attended the one-day mobile clinic organized by Community Veterinary Outreach in Kingston, Ont., last week. The national charity provided only first names of their clients.   (Submitted by Andrew Winterborn - image credit)

Chrystal and her dog Dizzy attended the one-day mobile clinic organized by Community Veterinary Outreach in Kingston, Ont., last week. The national charity provided only first names of their clients. (Submitted by Andrew Winterborn – image credit)

A mobile clinic in Kingston, Ont., is offering free veterinary care for the pets of people in the area who are experiencing homelessness, an initiative organizers hope will help alleviate stress on an already vulnerable population.

The clinic, held at Kingston’s Integrated Care Hub last Wednesday, was organized by Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO), a charity founded in Ottawa that runs similar clinics across the country.

“There is a significant population of pets with the unhoused individuals within the community,” said Andrew Winterborn, CVO’s regional director and university veterinarian at Queen’s University.

Veterinarians saw 14 dogs and two cats during the one-day clinic, and Winterborn said he’s hopeful it will return several more times this year.

There’s a common misconception that pets owned by homeless people might not be in the best shape, Winterborn said.

Dr. Andrew Winterborn, regional director of Community Veterinary Outreach and a veterinarian at Queen’s University, said providng pet care can help alleviate the stress many homeless pet owners face.

Dr. Andrew Winterborn, regional director of Community Veterinary Outreach and a veterinarian at Queen’s University, said providng pet care can help alleviate the stress many homeless pet owners face.

Dr. Andrew Winterborn is regional director of Community Veterinary Outreach and a veterinarian at Queen’s University. (Submitted by Andrew Winterborn)

“We found that all of the animals we saw were in very good health,” he noted, adding two of the animals were treated for minor ear infections.

“This is really consistent with what the literature reports, where pets that are with homeless and housing-vulnerable individuals are just as healthy as the general population.”

Pets provide ’emotional support, companionship’

Pets play an incredibly valuable role in the lives of people experiencing homelessness, Winterborn said, pointing to studies showing homeless people with pets are less likely to experience depression.

“We know that pet ownership for those individuals that are homeless and vulnerably housed really provide emotional support, companionship, and at times that really is the only level of companionship that they have.”

In fact, homeless people will often report feeding their pets first.

“They will put their pets before themselves, making sure that they’re taking care of them to the best of their ability, to the detriment of themselves at times,” Winterborn said.

Chico, Mary-Jane and Diogee are just some of the pets who received care at an inaugural mobile clinic for homeless pet owners, held last week by Community Veterinary Outreach in Kingston, Ont.

Chico, Mary-Jane and Diogee are just some of the pets who received care at an inaugural mobile clinic for homeless pet owners, held last week by Community Veterinary Outreach in Kingston, Ont.

Chico, Mary-Jane and Diogee are just some of the pets who received care at the one-day clinic last week in Kingston, Ont. (Submitted by Andrew Winterborn)

By providing wellness exams, vaccinations and donations of pet food, CVO hopes to help clients look after themselves as well as their furry companions.

The clinic also provided an opportunity for Kingston’s public health unit to check in on the animals’ owners, with a focus on immunization and sexual health.

While such health-care services are already available through the city’s public health agency, Kingston’s nurse-led outreach team was on hand to offer an array mayof care.

“Services include immunization of routine, seasonal, and high-risk vaccinations, testing for sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, point-of-care testing for HIV and syphilis, distribution of harm reduction supplies, and general health promotional education as it pertains to public health initiatives,” said Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFLA) Public Health in a statement.

Pet owners who are homeless in the Kingston area were able to bring their pets to receive wellness exams and necessary vaccinations at the inaugural mobile pet clinic held by Community Veterinary Outreach .

Pet owners who are homeless in the Kingston area were able to bring their pets to receive wellness exams and necessary vaccinations at the inaugural mobile pet clinic held by Community Veterinary Outreach .

Gail and her cat Kiki attended the one-day mobile clinic organized by Community Veterinary Outreach in Kingston, Ont., last week. The national charity provided only first names of their clients. The one-day clinic saw 14 dogs and two cats, according to organizers. (Submitted by Andrew Winterborn)

At the inaugural mobile pet clinic, KFLA’s team was “able to engage with multiple clients and considers this first clinic a success,” the agency said.

Although some believe it’s irresponsible for homeless people to have pets, Winterborn said that’s an unfortunate perception.

“I really think we need to look at it more from a broader societal context and really be asking, how can we help homeless people so that they are better able to take care of their pets?” he said.

link

By admin