AVMA and Street Dog Coalition team up to aid homeless pets and owners in Austin

The American Veterinary Medical Association partnered up with the Street Dog Coalition to care for those at both ends of the leash.

During the AVMA annual convention in Austin, the AVMA and the Street Dog Coalition helped people experiencing homelessness get the pet care and services they need at no cost.

Doctors who volunteered their time and services Sunday said the majority of animals they treated were dogs. Pet parents were able to get free veterinary exams for their animals, along with complimentary food and essential supplies. The animals received health checks and basic care, and pet parents got a care kit for themselves. Kits for their pets included necessities like food, a water/food bowl, treats, toys, leashes and collars.

This large-scale event Sunday was in Austin, but the Street Dog Coalition has teams in over 60 cities across the U.S.

“The gratitude really is overwhelming and just people being felt that they are seen, and heard, and loved, and we try to approach everything from a place of unconditional love and no judgment,” said national medical director for the Street Dog Coalition Dr. Hilary Wheeler. “Having that experience, knowing that we are here to make sure that they can take care of their pet, that they are doing a great job, keeping them healthy.”

A new RV could be seen at Sunday’s event. It was gifted to the Street Dog Coalition by ElleVet Sciences to hopefully provide care in more areas.

“We now have the RV newly wrapped and unveiled. It will be doing rural health and community health outreach fairs,” Wheeler said. “We will have a veterinary team that shows up provide all of the veterinary cares services, working alongside human healthcare practitioners that are providing care for the other side of the leash.”

Haircuts and grooming services are also available on the RV.

For spaying, neutering and additional care, owners were referred to local veterinarians who donate or reduce the cost of in-office procedures.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition took care of the pet food for cats and dogs, and its parent company, Colgate-Palmolive, donated essential oral health and hygiene products for use by pet parents, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash.

“Being sure that these pets are fed is paramount to their long-term health and longevity, and we also know that the pet parents need some support, and we’re proud to be able to do that.”

Merck Animal Health provided vaccines and preventatives such as heartworm and flea/tick medications.

“It really is life-changing for so many people,” said Wheeler. “Many of them need to show proof of vaccination in order to secure a bed at a shelter that allows pets, which there are very few, so those are coveted spots.”