Listen: Katrina Roe chats to Bruce Chan from Hope Street Vet Clinic. Above: When Tim was homeless for three years, his dog Sheena was an invaluable comfort and companion.
When someone becomes homeless, what happens to their canine companion?
It’s something most people never have considered, but for every 100 people who are homeless, 20 have dogs as pets. That’s more than 20,000 pooches who also have nowhere to call home. And given the stress people are under when they are facing the trauma of homelessness, it’s important, where possible, that those pets stick around.
That’s why Baptist care, in partnership with Sydney University, have created what is for many a life-changing organisation: Hope Street Vet Clinic.
Found in Sydney’s inner city, this once-monthly stall has been running since 2016 and is serving the local community in an extraordinary way. Their goal is to provide a free vet clinic that tends to the needs of the pets of people who are struggling financially or who are homeless.
Tim is one Sydney man who benefitted from the service, when he was homeless in the Sydney area. He says his dog Sheena has been a lifeline and the service was invaluable.
“Having a dog takes you out of your self and intense worrying about your own state, you’ve got somebody else to care about,” Tim said. “It’s quite uplifting. I was homeless for three years and Sheena’s been the one consistent beautiful blessing in my life – the most important relationship in my world.”
Hope 103.2’s Katrina Roe caught up with Hope Street’s Bruce Chan.
Bruce explained that the financial strain of keeping a pet can be hard for a working person, let alone for someone who is unemployed or homeless. “A medium sized dog can cost up to $100,000 in its lifespan,” he said.
This is why Hope Street perform a full free vet consultation for injured or sick animals and supply free medication and treatment to get pets back on their way.
Bruce believes the service is important because pets help and give comfort to people just as much as people care for their pets.
In just a few years, the Hope Street Vet Clinic has been seeing “overwhelmingly positive” results. They receive huge smiles and thankyous from their grateful customers. Many believe without this clinic they “wouldn’t have their pets as they would have had to put them down”.
Many of the workers alongside Bruce who are from the Sydney University Vet teaching Hospital are just volunteers who love what they do and enjoy getting some practical experience ready to enter the workplace. The service is fully funded by the community.
To support the Hope Street Vet Clinic head to Hopestreet.org.au.