A new service to help care for the pets of homeless people is set to launch in Aberdeen later this month.
It is being run by the charity StreetVet, who have partnered with the Aberdeen Cyrenians to support individuals and their furry friends who are experiencing homelessness.
Free care for issues facing pets
The service will provide free veterinary care for any issues the animals may be facing, as well as offering check-ups and blood tests to catch routine problems.
StreetVet will be staffed by volunteer vets and vet nurses from across Aberdeen and organisers have been delighted at the response by the local veterinary community.
“I’m thrilled to say that nearly every single practice in the city is represented with volunteers,” said Anne Lawson, lead vet and co-ordinator of the Aberdeen service.
“Covid has meant that vets have been working harder than ever 24/7 so it’s been brilliant to have so many people volunteering to give up their time for this.
“I think it says so much about the local veterinary community that they are so eager to help and be involved.”
Pets can be lifeline for homeless people
The StreetVet charity currently provides free veterinary care to the pets of people experiencing homelessness in 16 towns and cities across the UK.
When it opens on April 27, the Aberdeen branch will be the most northerly service and will see vets offer mobile services to visit pets in need on the street, as well as arranging for free transportation to veterinary surgeries for more detailed treatment.
In 2018-19, it was reported homelessness was at one of its highest levels in Aberdeen over the past decade, with 1,629 people applying for accommodation in the city.
There are worries that the impact of Covid-19 on homelessness will also continue to be felt for some time after an increasing demand for help in the city was recorded last year.
It is estimated that at least 10% of people experiencing homelessness have pets, and for many, their animals offer an important lifeline.
@streetvetuk will be launching in Aberdeen this month! 🎉
We will be working alongside the charity as they provide support to the furry friends of our service users experiencing homelessness 🐶❤️
— Aberdeen Cyrenians (@Abdn_Cyrenians) April 9, 2021
“We have so many service users who come to us and say that their pet is the only reason they get up every day,” said Lesley Sheridan, service manager at Aberdeen Cyrenians.”
‘All they want is for the pet to be looked after’
Lesley added: “So many people come to our Summer Street centre looking for pet food or a dog lead, and we have to almost coax the owners into accepting some help for themselves too.
“You can see that they are in need but all they want is for their pet to be looked after.
“They are always so happy when they talk about their pets, they light up, because sometimes pets are really the only company that they have.
“I can’t put into words what it means to the mental health of our service users to have a pet, and having that love and bond with them.”
‘This service is so important’
Lesley said: “That’s why this service is so important and is something Cyrenians have wanted to do for a long time.”
StreetVet officially launches in Aberdeen on April 27 but anyone in need of their services before then is advised to contact Cyrenians who will be able to access advance veterinary care.