Street Dog Coalition provides vet care for pet owners facing homelessness

Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 10:06 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - John Parent of Burlington waits patiently alongside his young Boxer mix, Diamond, for his vet checkup.

“He is my world,” Parent said, petting Diamond. “I never thought I would want a dog but he is everything to me right now.”

Parent, like everyone who stopped by the free clinic, struggles to pay vet bills.

“I live on a very, very low income so I want to make sure he’s ok,” Parent explained. “He weighs a little more than I thought he was but it’s ok.”

Street Dog Coalition is a Burlington-based group providing free vet care for dogs and cats of those at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness. Saturday marks their fourth vet clinic since their start in fall of last year. The clinic offers many services, including physical exams, vaccinations and parasite control.

Tessa Chaplin came from Colchester to get her cat and dog checked out.

“We’re going through a bit of troubles right now so this was a great opportunity to get what they needed,” Chaplin said.

Just 45 minutes into the clinic, vets had already seen around 40 dogs. Street Dog Coalition team leader and vet Michele Tulis expected another 60 by the end of the day. It’s more animals than they’ve seen at the past three clinics combined.

With homelessness increasing statewide – and tripling in Burlington in the past year – free vet services can go a long way to care for at-risk animals and their people.

“For certain housing, people need to have their dogs vaccinated,” Dr. Michele Tulis explained. “So that would be great if we can help people get housing by taking care of their dogs.”

Street Dog Coalition will hold their next clinic in spring of next year. If you need affordable services for your pet before then, they recommend reaching out to your local vet or animal shelter.