Homeless able to get medical care for their pets
Medical care for pets
DENVER — Panhandlers on street corners are a common sight. But now, we’re seeing them more often with their pets in tow.
It’s estimated between 5 – 10 percent of the homeless have a dog or cat.
And Friday, a one-day event is helping them and their best friends get a hand up out of homelessness.
More than 30 agencies providing support and services for the communities most vulnerable at Truscott Elementary School, including haircuts, bike repairs and pet care.
They’ve got the drugs, the dogs and the doctors.
But this isn’t your routine pet visit.
“I am here because I am homeless,” says 24-year-old Sara, who didn’t want to give her last name.
She came to see experts from CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital for free at Loveland Homeless Connect.
“I am here to get my dog shots and meds,” she says.
Sara found Kamo, a one-and-a-half year old schnauzer/Jack Russell terrier mix, in a dumpster as a puppy.
And even though she doesn’t have a home, she gives her dog everything else she possibly can.
“I have to feed him before I feed myself,” she says. “He is the most important thing in my life possible. If anything happened to him, I’d probably die.”
Here, the dogs and cats get physical exams, nail trims, and vaccinations.
Because they’re homeless, sometimes they face criticism for owning a pet when struggling to take care of themselves.
But vets say most of these animals are as well cared for as those that live in homes.
“The concerns are the same that (home) owners have. The love is the same that (home) owners have. Really, I don’t see much difference between the two populations. The ones I see here and the ones that come through my clinic doors,” says Rebecca Ruch-Gallie, instructor at CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
“We bathe her. We brush her. We feed her. We walk her. We give her every bit of attention she wants. She’s spoiled,” says Tina Carmelino-Terrazas of her one-and-a-half year old Maltese mix, Princess.
The homeless mother of two says because they love Princess so much, they won’t give her up—even to get housing.
“We can’t have an animal in lots of places. So we’re in an RV because we choose to have her.”
They are people who’ve fallen upon hard times. But with unconditional love of their pets, like Kamo, Sara says it’s that support that’s helping her move forward.
“I love services like this. It’s awesome. It’s helpful. I’m thankful,” she says.
For animals whose health is beyond what can be taken care of at this event, CSU refers them to low-cost vet clinics in Northern Colorado and Denver, like PetAid.