Clinic for homeless dogs at WLDC

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We’ve all seen people affected by homelessness on the streets of London, often in sleeping bags and doorways, a dog lying or sitting trustingly beside them. Now a clinic for homeless dogs is to open in the capital. It is believed to be the first in London.

Many of the drop in centres and hostels that care for rough sleepers do not allow dogs. This means their owners will often sleep on the streets rather than leave their dogs to rough it outside without them. Many of these people have fallen through the net, often without even access to benefits, so it can be hard for them to find the help they need when their dog gets sick or needs extra attention, such as a warm winter coat. To help these homeless dogs, often the best friends of the rough sleepers who own them, the West London Mission has joined with a team of veterinary students.

The students, from the Royal Veterinary College, have set up “Trusty Paws” in London, a day clinic for homeless dogs that will run alongside the West London Day Centre in central London.

The West London Day Centre in Marylebone sees up to 100 rough sleepers every day. They can have a warm shower and get a hot breakfast and also see the in-house NHS team for medical care. Last year, the West London Day Centre helped 304 people come off the streets.

The clinic will offer a similar service but this time for dogs, ensuring that the city’s homeless dogs are up to date with their vaccinations and any other health needs.

Ruby Shorrock, founder and president of Trusty Paws, said the clinic will offer preventative care for dogs belonging to homeless people.

“Veterinary care is very expensive. People who are homeless or vulnerable find it hard to pay for.”

She came up with the idea after hearing of a similar clinic in Nottingham. Besides vaccinations, the clinic offers flea and worm treatment, micro-chips, medical check-ups, food, collars and even coats to keep the homeless dogs warm and cosy on the streets through Christmas and the cold winter nights.

Ruby, in her fifth year at Glasgow vet school, set up a similar scheme in Scotland last year. She said fears that homeless dogs might have more parasites than other dogs, or be underweight or neglected, were unfounded.

Despite challenging living conditions, the owners look after them well and tend to put their dog’s needs before their own. But they can find it difficult to keep them up to date with vaccinations and other general needs that dogs with homes take for granted.

Jon Kuhrt of the West London Mission said: “The West London Mission has been working with homeless people for more than 125 years but this is the first time we’ve been involved in a service specifically for their dogs. Relationships are at the heart of addressing homelessness and we know how important the relationship often is between homeless people and their dogs. It is great to form this partnership with Trusty Paws to add to all the other services we offer at the West London Day Centre.”

Neither Trusty Paws nor the West London Day Centre receive any public funding and both are dependent on donations.
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Posted by: Admin on Wednesday 23 Dec 2015

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