HELPERS: Veterinary Outreach provides care to pets, owners experiencing homelessness

Community Veterinary Outreach of York Region provides essential care for the pets of homeless and vulnerable shelters in the region, along with human health

Everyone who owns a pet knows that they’re not just companions — they’re true family members.

And for people experiencing homelessness or going through turbulent times, they can be the one thing that brings a sense of comfort and stability to everyday life.

That’s why pet Heath care is so important – and why charities like Community Veterinary Outreach, which has a chapter in York Region, are essential to ensuring all pets get the care they need .

“I want to bridge the ties between the various stakeholders that are part of healthcare,” said Angela Smith, Community Veterinary Outreach Director for York Region. “There are many disruptions between human health and animal health. It is very important that they work together.”

Founded in 2015, Community Veterinary Outreach of York Region (CVOYR) provides free veterinary care, including exams, vaccinations, microchipping, deworming and pest control for people’s animals who are homeless or in transitional housing who do not already have a veterinarian relationship. Although cats and dogs are the most common pets served by the charity, they also house ‘pocket’ pets such as hamsters and mice and other common pets such as rabbits.

CVOYR also extends its care beyond animals with its “One Health” approach, which also supports the individual through partnerships with organizations such as Inn From the Cold, Loft Community Outreach Services, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Salvation Army. While pets receive veterinary care, their owners have access to services such as mental and sexual health services, smoking cessation, healthy living programs and education, and naloxone kits.

CVOYR hosts three clinics a year, serving approximately 25 clients and 30 pets per clinic.

“We know that vets are really seen as a gateway for people to access more health care for themselves because they don’t usually want to go to a doctor. A lot of times, they feel disrespected and unwelcome,” Smith said. “However, when they come with their animal, we welcome them with open arms.”

Smith began providing veterinary services through CVOYR in 2017, following in the footsteps of classmate Michelle Lem, who founded Community Veterinary Outreach in 2003. Along with eight core members and many volunteers — from veterinarians to technicians to a photographer who donates pet photos to clients — played an important role in filling a gap in pet care for the vulnerable housed in the area.

“I couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” Smith said. “They are so amazing. It’s unbelievable how much they are there for us. It’s a blessing.”

The group is currently working to expand its services to include spays and neuters. They also hope to increase the clinical frequency to four times a year.

Those who qualify for CVOYR’s eligibility criteria they can contact their employee to access the services.

“The care, the smiles, the camaraderie and the relationships we build with these people is just amazing,” Smith said.

(tagsTo Translate)Community Veterinary Outreach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *