More often than not, homeless people struggle to find the healthcare they need—never mind treatment for their pets. That’s why animal-loving veterinarian Dr. Kwane Stewart (aka The Street Vet) spends his free time walking around California in search of homeless people with animals in need of medical attention. The good samaritan has been giving pets medical treatment since 2011—and it’s all paid for out of his own pocket or by donations.
When the U.S. faced economic troubles during the Great Recession in 2007, California was hit particularly hard. People who lost their jobs and became homeless suddenly couldn’t afford to care for their pets. “That was the moment for me career-wise that was enlightening,” reveals Stewart. “Up until then, I’d been practicing high-end medicine for clients who could pay for everything. But suddenly I was thrown into this economic war.”
Stewart decided to take to the streets, and began providing medical care to any animal that needed it. However, he soon struggled to keep up with the mounting costs, so he set up a GoFundMe page. “Some of the pets I come across need treatment (life-saving in some cases) that can be very costly and it’s hard to ever say no to a pet that’s suffering,” says Stewart. “The cost of minor treatments like ear infections, flea treatment or vaccines can be around $100 whereas more serious cases like a tumor removal or dental with extractions can be $1,500.”
All donations go towards the care of these pets, but Stewart’s work also improves the lives of homeless people who are often desperate to get their furry friends the help they need. “Working on the streets, I’ve experienced some of the most genuine stories of love, compassion, struggle ,and hope,” says Stewart. “It’s been life changing and truly inspiring.”