Volunteer vets providing check ups for homeless dogs

StreetVet voluteers
StreetVet voluteers

Homeless people in Brighton will be able to access health care for their dogs after a new support service took to the streets.

StreetVet has 40 volunteer vets and veterinary nurses patrolling the city, delivering check-ups to pets who belong to rough sleepers.

With owners’ consent, dogs can be treated for fleas and worms, given medication and vaccinations, have blood and lump samples taken, and their urine analysed. Dogs can also be microchipped and any requiring advanced treatment can be taken to a support practice for neutering, dental work, surgery, diagnostic imaging and hydrotherapy.

Establishing a presence in Brighton is the latest move by the non-profit organisation.

It was founded less than a year ago in London by vets Jade Statt and Sam Joseph, but has already spread to Bristol and Cambridge.

The Brighton project was given a boost when leading pet food manufacturer Webbox Natural donated a year’s supply of pet food to the Brighton team.

Jade and Sam identified a need for their services in Brighton through consultation with charities who work with the homeless.

StreetVet, a registered practice with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, will now work with them to deliver its pet support. Typically, this sees its teams attending soup kitchen sessions with Sussex Homeless Support to meet homeless people.

But they also plan to get out and about to find those whose pets may need support.

Jade, 38, who qualified as a vet in 2002, said: “Most rough sleepers look after their dogs very well, but some level of extra care can often be required.

“For example, they can’t always control what their pets eat or its quality, which can lead to stomach problems. Like many areas, Brighton has a growing problem with homelessness, and therefore it is likely there will be an increasing number of pets who require treatment.

"We've all walked past a homeless person with a dog and wanted to help. I see it all the time, people will stop and talk to them about the dogs.

"As for the veterinary professionals involved, it’s wonderful that there are so many in Brighton who want to help StreetVet. It is a sign that people care and are willing to give up their time.

“We are new to Brighton and still finding our feet, and time will tell what level of support is required.”

Zoe Hardaker, product manager at Webbox said: “StreetVet carry out absolutely vital work and we’re really pleased to be able to support them.

“Many homeless people put the needs of their pet before their own but still struggle to feed them an adequate amount of food.

“Hopefully this donation will go some way towards helping Street Vet to take care of the growing number of homeless pets on Brighton’s streets.”

StreetVet said a team of around four volunteers will be on patrol at any time, usually for two-hour sessions.

The sessions are timed to coincide with Sussex Homeless Support’s weekly soup kitchen at The Clock Tower in central Brighton.

Latest figures from Brighton and Hove City Council estimate that there are 178 people sleeping rough in Brighton and Hove, and the latest government data showed Brighton had the second highest homeless population in the country after Westminster.

Veterinary professionals who would like to support StreetVet should email info@streetvet.co.uk

More information, or to donate, visit: www.streetvet.co.uk