StreetVet is a registered charity that offers free accessible vet care to pets belonging to those experiencing homelessness in the UK.
The team of 650 volunteer vets and vet nurses provide support for homeless pet owners who cannot afford private veterinary treatment and educates them on the responsibilities and care of animal ownerships.
Vet and Co-founder Jade Statt answers our questions about their crucial work…
What drove you to set up StreetVet and help homeless people and their pets?
As a vet I had always wanted to volunteer my skills to give back and it wasn’t until a chance encounter with a homeless gentleman and his dog in 2016, that I realised what a need there was to provide accessible vet care to those experiencing homelessness in the UK. Up to 25% of those experiencing homelessness have dogs and these pets play such a huge part in their lives providing loyalty, companionship, purpose and most importantly unconditional love.
What support does StreetVet offer to homeless pet owners?
We outreach regularly on the streets in 17 locations across the UK offering free accessible vet care. Anything that can be done in a veterinary consulting room, StreetVet can do on the streets; prescribe medications, vaccinate, microchip, take blood, test urine but sometimes the most valuable service we can offer is just to be there and listen.
We provide pet essentials (food, toys, leads etc) and if we examine a pet that needs further surgery or investigations then we arrange and fund this at a local supportive veterinary practice.
I was naïve to this when I first started “StreetVetting” but many of our clients will forgo seeking help for their own medical conditions as they do not want to leave their dogs. It has taken time to build trust but now that StreetVet is more known within the homeless community, we are able to offer finite boarding for pets so owners can go into hospital and get the treatment they need.
Most recently, we were awarded funding to put into action a very exciting project aimed at helping our clients to access hostels. Only 10%* of hostels in the UK are pet friendly and so currently owners are being expected to choose between a hostel room or their pet. At StreetVet we aim to help keep our clients and their pets together wherever possible and so we have launched the StreetVet Accredited Hostel Scheme to try and give hostels as much support as possible to start saying yes to pets.
How has the pandemic impacted or changed how you work?
The pandemic affected StreetVet in a similar way to all charities – reduced funding, increase in costs and a decrease in resources as many of our volunteers were home schooling, working long hours in practices or shielding. We normally connect with our clients at a weekly outreach, commonly alongside soup kitchens, so this was totally disrupted. Calls to our emergency number increased by over 100% at the start of the pandemic as our clients relied on us for regular dog food and medications for chronic conditions. Our priority was to deliver our service as best we could, and we just had to adapt.
Did you see an uptake of homeless people and their pets during the pandemic?
Sadly yes – we have had feedback from some of our locations saying they are registering new clients every week whereas previously they might be looking at a new client registration every few months.
How does the Hostels scheme aim to further help pets on the streets?
As above. The hostel scheme provides 360 wrap around support for hostels to adopt positive pet policies. From education and training for hostel staff, regular food and pet essential deliveries to pet policy provision and free veterinary care. The feedback from our lighthouse accredited hostel in Hertfordshire has been incredibly positive and we are very excited to be hiring a project coordinator dedicated to rolling this scheme out across the UK.
To find out more about StreeVet and their Accredited Hostel Scheme visit www.streetvet.co.uk/streetvet-accredited-hostel-scheme/.