StreetVet: Veterinary care for pets of people experiencing homelessness.

 

In the UK, Boehringer Ingelheim and StreetVet are helping those experiencing homelessness and their pets.

StreetVet dog companion

"Man’s best friend." Dogs are incredible friends to people. They provide emotional support and unconditional love. This bond is particularly strong between those experiencing homelessness and their beloved animal companions. 

It’s a dreary, rainy evening in central London. There’s a number of people and their dogs, waiting patiently in the dismal weather. Despite the rain, the mood is upbeat, doggie tails are wagging, and there’s a sense of anticipation in the air. These are some of London’s 150,000 people experiencing homelessness, eagerly seeking veterinarian care for their beloved pets. 

The crisis of homelessness across the UK is a mounting issue. In 2021, over 280,000 people were homeless or threatened with homelessness. 1,2 It is estimated that 1 in 4 homeless people have pets, yet for many, obtaining essential veterinary care remains a challenge. 

Pets provide constant companionship, emotional support and security for many individuals who are experiencing homelessness. The causes of homelessness vary widely and can include circumstances like domestic violence, job loss and untreated mental health conditions, and many people rely on pet companionship to ease the hardships associated with being homeless. 

“He is all the family I have got, he’s everything – it’s like having another heartbeat that is on your side.” - StreetVet client

StreetVet volunteer and dog companion
“If I was separated from my dog it would kill me. To lose him would be the most horrible thing I could ever imagine.”– StreetVet client

The emotional support and unconditional love provided by these furry companions is invaluable. Many people experiencing homelessness report that their pets provide a sense of responsibility and are their only source of social support, friendship, and security. 

Helping those in need and their pet companions

Boehringer Ingelheim is an official charity partner to StreetVet, a UK-based charity that delivers free essential veterinary care and services to the pets of people experiencing homelessness. StreetVet was born out of a chance encounter between Jade Statt, StreetVet Co-Founder and Clinical Director, a homeless gentleman, and his dog back in 2016. 

StreetVet Founder and a client
“I have been a vet for over 20 years and some of the most palpable human-animal bonds that I have had the privilege to witness, have been through my work with StreetVet.” - Jade Statt

About that life-changing encounter, Jade shares that, “talking to him about his unconditional love for his dog and his fears of losing her, and having recently diagnosed my own dog Oakley with cancer, his worries resonated with me. I felt frustrated that I couldn’t use my veterinary skills to help them and walked away determined to change that.” 

Since its inception, StreetVet has delivered over 9,500 consultations to pets of those experiencing homelessness across the UK.  

Boehringer-Ingelheim StreetVet volunteer
"There is a mutual dependence and that the act of caring for a pet gives purpose, strength, and comfort.” - Dr. Milnes

A Boehringer-Ingelheim veterinarian and StreetVet volunteer

Ailsa Milnes, brand manager for the ruminant vaccine portfolio at Boehringer Ingelheim, veterinarian and StreetVet volunteer says, “It’s evident that these pets are well loved, providing unconditional support and act as an anchor for our homeless clients. One client told me that her dog was a life saver. Many of us use that term as a throwaway glib comment, but the scars on her arms suggested that he probably was just that. You don’t know someone’s story and you don’t know why they are on the streets, but what I have learned is that these animals mean so much to their owners. There is a mutual dependence and the act of caring for a pet gives purpose, strength, and comfort.”

Life on the streets makes it difficult to access the fundamental veterinarian care needed to ensure the health and vitality of these pets. Together, Boehringer Ingelheim and StreetVet’s team of qualified professionals are helping those experiencing homeless and changing the future for these beloved pets who may otherwise have to go without the care they need and deserve.

 

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Here’s how Boehringer-Ingelheim has been supporting StreetVet:

  1. A £10,000 donation over the course of two years
  2. £5,000 worth of pain relief products for pets
  3. Sponsorship of an osteoarthritis lecture at StreetVet’s annual conference
  4. Six months’ supply of Frontline
  5. Our colleagues are raising funds for StreetVet through sponsored events.

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References

1. Scanlon L, et al. Anthrozoös. 2021;34(1):77–92. 
2. Kerman N, et al. J Soc Distress Homeless. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1080/10530789.2019.1650325

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