By Mandy Stapleford
It’s often overlooked that people who become homeless are not likely to be able to care for their pets properly. Disturbed by this issue and the rising problem of homelessness in America, California veterinarian Kwane Stewart realized his unique opportunity to make a difference.
Since 2011, Kwane has visited the poorest areas of Los Angeles carrying his medical bag and offering his services, free of charge. He treats a myriad of animal illnesses, from infections to allergies, bad teeth, flea infestations, and even arthritis. He also arranges surgeries at no or low cost, often paying for medicines and supplies out of his own pocket.
While the majority of his patients are dogs, he also sees cats, birds, and reptiles too. He gets to know these animals and their owners, who often open up about their lives on the street and their reasons for being there.
Anyone who has loved a pet knows how strong the bond of love can be.,Homeless people are with their animal every minute of every day, and that relationship means everything to them. These animals can provide their owners with a sense of belonging, purpose, security, and hope within the hard times they face on the street. It is not unusual for the owners to treat their animals better than they treat themselves.
“I’ve seen homeless people feed their pet before they feed themselves,” he says. “I’ve seen them give their last dollar to care for them. They sustain each other and that is the power of pet companionship.”
To expand his mission, Kwane set up a GoFundMe page called “The Street Vet.” He is also documenting his experiences in a TV series of the same name, where he hopes to not only take care of the animals in need but to also challenge the preconceived notions of the homeless people who love them.
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