Launched just six years ago, StreetVet has a simple mission: to deliver free essential veterinary care and services to the pets of people experiencing homelessness and to protect the human-animal bond, keeping pets and their owners together wherever possible.
StreetVet’s Head of Marketing, Collette Sheaff explains how the charity has evolved and continues to grow nationally. Find out more about how StreetVet, a charity that is fuelled by hundreds of volunteer vets and veterinary nurses, operates.
Who are StreetVet?
What started as 2 vets and a backpack in 2016, is now an award-winning national charity offering free accessible vet care to pets belonging to those experiencing homelessness. StreetVet is driven by more than 350 vets and vet nurse volunteers who swap the practice for the pavement in 17 locations across the UK and growing.
StreetVet recognises and champions the importance of the human-animal bond and in discovering that less than 10%* of UK hostels are pet friendly, launched the StreetVet Accredited Hostel Scheme to make it as easy as possible for hostels to say yes to pets and prioritise keeping StreetVet’s clients and pets together.
To find out more about StreetVet and how your support can make a real difference to the pets of those experiencing homelessness watch this short video.
Barking Bags is all about dogs but did you know StreetVet isn’t?
Many people think that StreetVet is all about dogs, but it isn’t!
It’s a common misconception that the only pets people experiencing homelessness have are dogs – but that’s not the case. People come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their animal companions.
Whilst dogs do make up the vast majority of the patients StreetVet treats, we also help many cats, and a few small furries such as ferrets or rabbits too. We don’t stop there – we’ve also treated one bird and two bearded dragons!
Since StreetVet started, our volunteer vets and veterinary nurses have performed nearly 9,000 consultations and over 2,000 pets have been registered and treated by StreetVet. As well as being a national charity, StreetVet is also a registered veterinary practice, which means we can do everything a normal vet practice would do in a consulting room – but we do it on the streets!
This includes health checks, vaccinations, microchipping and diagnostic investigations such as sampling lumps, urine tests and taking blood. Anything that cannot be executed on the streets , such as further imaging or surgery, StreetVet will arrange and fund.
More Pet-Friendly Hostels are needed - StreetVet is attempting to change this picture with our Accredited Hostel Scheme.
“It means the world to be indoors, knowing my dogs are safe with me. I can finally sleep soundly not scared that someone will try to steal them while I’m asleep.”
These are the words of Brian who, until recently, would sleep rough rather than give up his two dogs Misty and Rain.
“Being indoors with my dogs has helped my mental health no end” he says, “and I truly believe it has had the same effect on my dogs. On the street, they were constantly alert, like they felt they had to protect us but now some mornings it’s hard to even wake them for a walk.”
For people like Brian who find themselves on the streets, the unconditional love and companionship they receive from their pets, especially when often being ignored by people walking by, is one of the few things that keeps them going. Dogs see the person, not their situation.
A statistic that really surprised StreetVet, was that only 10%* of all UK hostels are pet-friendly. This leaves people with a horrendous decision to make; continue to sleep on the streets or give up their beloved companion for a bed.
StreetVet understands that accepting pets into accommodation projects can be a daunting prospect, especially if organisations feel like they don’t have the expertise to deal with an animal's needs. So, back in 2020, the StreetVet Accredited Hostel Scheme was launched. Working with hostels across the UK, StreetVet supports them to be in a position to allow pets through their doors by offering free, accessible veterinary care, as well as support for hostel managers and staff to adopt and implement positive pet policies. StreetVet is committed to ensuring that those seeking support should not be forced to face being separated from their beloved companion in order to access a bed.
Knowing also how daunting and stressful moving out of supported accommodation and into independent living accommodation can be for someone who has experienced homelessness with their pet, StreetVet also continues to support all registered patients for up to a year after moving into their own accommodation.
How can you help StreetVet?
If you would like to help StreetVet continue its vital work in delivering free essential veterinary care and services to the pets of those experiencing homelessness, please visit www.streetvet.org.uk to see all the different ways you can support the charity.
Please also follow StreetVet on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date on all their news and to hear about the stories of some of the patients they treat.
You can also sign up to receive StreetVet’s newsletter updates here: https://www.streetvet.co.uk/sign-up-to-our-newsletter/