On October 20, 2018 a team of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, social workers, York Region public health staff and community volunteers came together at the Inn From the Cold shelter in Newmarket to offer veterinary services to homeless and marginally-housed individuals with pets throughout the York Region of Ontario. Through this program, Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO) provided twenty clients and their pets with preventive health examinations, vaccinations, microchipping and parasite treatments free of any charge.
CVO's Regional Director, Angela Smith, DVM, MPH, says she's seen first-hand the impact pets have on the lives of so many vulnerable members of the community. "From offering warmth and protection to people experiencing homelessness, to giving a sense of purpose to those living with debilitating depression, pets bring such incredible enrichment to the lives of the people we see at CVO clinics," says Smith. "And the opposite is true, too. These individuals who may not have much are willing to give up their own food, blankets and coats in favour of keeping their beloved pets healthy and happy. It's a very special bond."
Community Veterinary Outreach's clinic in York Region was made possible in part by a $20,000 grant from PetSmart Charities® of Canada that has been earmarked to support veterinary clinics for underserved populations and their pets in the York Region, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. The grant provided funding for equipment, supplies, staff and volunteer training and more.
"At PetSmart Charities of Canada, we're committed to not only bringing people and pets together, but keeping them together, even during challenging life circumstances," said Dani LaGiglia, regional relationship manager at the animal welfare charity. "By supporting Community Veterinary Outreach's clinics in York Region, we're helping to ensure that every pet parent has access to high-quality veterinary care for their pets. We're honoured to fund CVO's efforts to help homeless and vulnerably-housed individuals and families to retain one of the great comforts and joys of their lives—the companionship of a beloved pet."