On Saturday, October 9, 2023, a free pop-up pet clinic was set up in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood to provide veterinary care and supplies to the homeless people and their pets. The clinic was hosted by veterinarian Dr. Robert Mack, alongside the Oregon Humane Society, and offered services such as vaccinations, microchipping, flea and tick treatment, nail trimming, and grooming. The clinic also distributed pet food, leashes, collars, harnesses, toys, and blankets to the attendees.
Dr. Mack said he was inspired to organize the clinic after seeing the bond between the homeless people and their pets. He said he wanted to help them keep their pets healthy and happy, as they provide emotional support and companionship to their owners. He also said he hoped to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the homeless population and their pets, and to encourage more people to get involved in helping them.
The clinic was well-received by the homeless people and their pets, who lined up outside the tent to get their turn. Some of the pets were nervous or scared at first, but they soon relaxed after getting some treats and attention from the staff. The owners expressed their gratitude for the free care and supplies, saying that they often struggle to afford or access veterinary services for their pets.
A growing need for pet-friendly resources for the homeless
According to a 2019 study by Portland State University, about 10% of the homeless people in Portland have pets, mostly dogs and cats. The study found that having a pet can help the homeless cope with stress, loneliness, and depression, as well as provide protection and security. However, having a pet can also pose some challenges, such as finding shelter, food, and medical care for their animals.
The study recommended that more pet-friendly resources be made available for the homeless population, such as shelters that allow pets, mobile veterinary clinics, pet food banks, and pet-friendly public spaces. The study also suggested that more education and outreach be done to inform the homeless people about the benefits of spaying and neutering their pets, as well as the legal requirements and responsibilities of pet ownership.
The free pop-up pet clinic was one of the initiatives that aimed to address some of these needs. Dr. Mack said he planned to host more clinics in the future, as well as partner with other organizations that serve the homeless community. He said he hoped that his clinic would inspire other veterinarians and animal lovers to volunteer their time and skills to help the homeless people and their pets.
A positive impact on both humans and animals
The free pop-up pet clinic not only provided essential care and supplies for the pets of the homeless people, but also created a positive impact on both humans and animals. The clinic gave the homeless people an opportunity to interact with other pet owners, as well as with the staff and volunteers who showed them kindness and compassion. The clinic also gave the pets a chance to socialize with other animals, as well as receive some pampering and affection from the staff.
The clinic also helped to improve the public perception of the homeless people and their pets, by showing that they are not a nuisance or a threat, but rather a vulnerable group that needs support and assistance. The clinic also helped to promote responsible pet ownership among the homeless people, by educating them about the importance of vaccination, microchipping, spaying and neutering, and proper care for their animals.
The free pop-up pet clinic was a successful event that demonstrated how a simple gesture of compassion can make a big difference in the lives of both humans and animals. The clinic was a testament to the power of love and friendship between the homeless people and their pets, as well as between them and their community.