Every month for 10 years, volunteers with Vets for Pets have treated animals of low income, transient and homeless people at Our Place. (File submitted/ Richard Leon Gauthier Photography)

Vet services for Victoria’s pets of the homeless cancelled for first time in a decade

Vets for Pets faces a volunteer shortage that’s forced the group to cancel its recent service

For the first time in 10 years a free veterinary service for the pets of low-income, transient and homeless people has been cancelled.

Vets for Pets is a volunteer organization comprised of veterinarians, vet technicians and pre-vet students and assistants who provide preventative care for cats and dogs once per month at Our Place, at 919 Pandora Ave.

Typical services include distributing vaccines, flea control and dewormer, and treatment for simple ear, eye and skin infections.

READ MORE: Vets help furry friends of homeless and low income people

The group visits Our Place on the second Sunday of each month – except for February and July – and in a period of two hours sees an average of 60 pets.

This month however, there were not enough volunteers to allow for the service.

“I think we’re seeing a lot of burnout,” said Vets for Pets founder Jane Vermeulen. “It’s hard to get people out working on their day off.”

Vermeulen started the campaign after she noticed a large population of low-income pets on the streets. Since she started, the homeless population and their pets have increased significantly, with many people reporting problems with Victoria’s housing crisis.

“There are a lot of people who judge and say that homeless people shouldn’t have pets,” Vermeulen said. “They’re going to have pets, that’s just the nature… they shouldn’t be denied companionship because they’re facing a transient time.”

ALSO READ: Victoria woman named ‘woman of worth’ for free vet care program

Preventative services such as vaccines and flea treatment do more than help that one pet; it prevents the spreading of contagious diseases to surrounding pets and prevents infections for people in the homeless population with compromised immune systems.

Now, however, Vermeulen and her team are facing a different set of problems.

“After 10 years we’re also now seeing pets getting older,” she said. “Euthanasia is becoming an issue.”

While the mobile team doesn’t have the resources or licenses to perform euthanasia or diagnostics, a local clinic and crematorium has partnered with Vets for Pets to allow for free euthanasia services where the pet owner can be present.

“If you have no money you may not know you can get your pet euthanized for free, you don’t just need to let it die. It can be humane.”

Since its inception Vets for Pets has teamed up with the BCSPCA and West Coast Sassy Cats to expand the possible services and treatments available. A similar campaign called Helping Paws has also opened up in Nanaimo.

ALSO READ: Esquimalt resident crowned Mrs. Vancouver Island

Vermeulen hopes that more volunteers can step forward for the next scheduled visit on Sunday, Aug. 11.

“Being a vet is a trade. I could definitely serve soup at Our Place, and it’s great that people do, but I can do this,” Vermeulan said, adding that overall very little time is needed. “For 10 hours a year you can help the pets in the downtown core. Only 10 hours, that’s all I’m asking for.”

For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer you can vetsforpetsvictoria.com.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Prolific offender found sleeping in Oak Bay resident’s car

Of 106 calls to 911 last week, eight were abandoned

Greater Victoria group helps low-income, at-risk seniors stay safe

Victoria chapter of 100+ Women Who Care donate $30,300 to Eldercare Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and the Apollo 11 moonlanding

‘Ground control to Major Tom’ the countdown is on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

Views, brews and food on Gulf Islands craft beer cruise

Five day cruise from Sidney to Gulf Islands, includes chef and beer historian

RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Police believe crime an isolated incident

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

Asylum figures show overall slower rate of irregular crossings into Canada

Between January and June 2019, a total of 6,707 asylum seekers crossed irregularly into Canada

U.S. tug firm to be sentenced for 2016 spill in B.C. First Nation’s territory

he Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

Wolves not to blame for Island’s declining deer population, says researcher

Forestry practices, not predation, blamed for reduced numbers in prey animals

Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Most Read