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Vets bring hope with free pop-up clinic for pets of rough sleepers

In late December 2022, Mission Australia and Southern Cross Vet (SCV) hosted a free pop-up clinic to support the pets of rough sleepers and tenants at Common Ground, Mission Australia’s supportive housing facility in Camperdown, Sydney.

Tenants at Common Ground, rough sleepers and people at risk of or experiencing homelessness brought their companions for free checks, vaccinations, and grooming, such as nail trims.

More than 20 people attended with their companion animals and also received free Christmas and New Year goodies including food, treats, leads and grooming gear.

The visit was the second time the team at SCV, which has clinics in St Peters, Bellevue Hill and Surry Hills, donated their skills and services at Common Ground as part of their Project Hope initiative. 

SCV Director Dr Sam Kovac said, “Sadly, when people are homeless or marginalised in the community the love of their pet is sometimes the only love they have.

“And often they can’t afford the services of a vet, so we try and help as often as we can. We thank Mission Australia for inviting us to hold a pop-up clinic, where we helped many pets.”

One pet, a domestic short-hair cat called KC, urgently needed an abscess on its face removed. Dr Kovac’s team took the cat to the SCV surgery in St Peters and performed the life-saving operation. 

“My team also helped dogs with bad teeth and a puppy with a sore paw – the gratefulness of the owners was just overwhelming,” Dr Kovac said.

Mission Australia’s Community Development Manager Kyle Wiebe said. “People who are rough sleeping, experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness can often feel marginalised and socially isolated.

“A bond with a companion animal can provide companionship, emotional support, and security; knowing that their pet’s health is being taken care of gives a boost to the owner’s sense of wellbeing.

“For someone struggling to find a safe place to sleep at night, the financial cost of pet ownership is tough to meet. So often, owners will forgo essentials for themselves to ensure their pets have what they need.

“We are very grateful to Southern Cross Vets for providing their skills and services free of charge, helping our tenants to experience the immense benefits of pet ownership, said Mr Wiebe.

Project Hope was officially launched by Mayor Clover Moore in 2013 and provides vet treatment for the pets of people who are rough sleeping, experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness.

Common Ground in Camperdown provides housing for people who’ve experienced long-term homelessness and people on low to moderate incomes in the inner city of Sydney.


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