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Free clinic boosts health of homeless and their best friends

Newmarket’s seasonal homeless shelter, Inn from the Cold, will be transformed into a health hub this Saturday for the homeless, those who are marginally housed, and their beloved pets, thanks to a $20,000 grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada
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Newmarket’s seasonal homeless shelter, Inn from the Cold, will be transformed into a health hub this Saturday for the homeless, those who are marginally housed, and their beloved pets, thanks to a $20,000 grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada.

The funding makes it possible for the Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO) program, along with a wide-ranging health-care team of social workers, York Region public health staff and volunteers, to provide 20 shelter clients and their pets with human health care and pet care, including preventive exams, vaccinations, microchipping and parasite treatments, all free of charge. 

The free clinic runs Saturday, Oct. 20 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Inn from the Cold, 510 Penrose St., Newmarket.

CVO was founded in 2012 by veterinarian Michelle Lem, who took a great interest in what matters most to the homeless; their pets. Her novel idea of a ‘one health’ model for marginalized people and their pets has grown exponentially across Canada. It’s estimated between 12 and 19 per cent of homeless people in the country own pets.

"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 the clinics," CVO regional director Angela Smith said.  "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."

Funding from the animal welfare charity covers equipment, supplies, staff and volunteer training to roll out the free veterinary and human health clinics to under-served people in Vancouver, BC.

"By supporting the clinics in York Region and Vancouver, we're helping to ensure that every pet parent has access to high-quality veterinary care for their pets, and equally as importantly, basic health and dental care services for themselves,” PetSmart charity president David Haworth said. “We're honoured to fund this effort 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."

Community Veterinary Outreach has a mandate to improve the health of homeless individuals and their pets by offering human health services and health education together with preventive veterinary care for at-risk populations across Canada.

To learn more or to donate, visit here




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Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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