'The Street Vet' of California Helps the Homeless Care for Their Pets Free of Charge
For Dr. Kwane Stewart, what started as an afternoon of volunteering quickly turned into a passion and nearly decade-long mission to provide medical care to the pets of the less fortunate.
In 2011, the California veterinarian realized that the pets of the homeless community needed access to affordable medical care, so Stewart set up a table at a soup kitchen to see if any homeless people were interested in free vet care for their pets. Stewart treated about 15 animals in one day — a number so high he knew he needed to keep his practice going.
“That first experience was one of the most rewarding moments for me,” Stewart told GoFundMe, which awarded “The Street Vet” with their February GoFundMe Hero honor. “When you give back, there is something you get in return that feels much larger. I knew I wanted to keep doing it.”
Since that day, Stewart has been traveling all around California, scouting out animals who could use medical assistance free of charge.
The veterinarian spends his free time walking through alleyways and overpasses with his bag full of medical supplies, treating all types of animals — dogs, cats and even once a python — in need.
Stewart told Today that he typically treats ear infections, flea infestations and mild arthritis, which can often be treated with a simple vaccine. However, there are some instances where surgery is required, which can cost higher than what Stewart can handle out of pocket.
“I don’t ever want to have to turn anybody away,” he told GoFundMe. “The look on people’s faces when they get their pets back, especially after a surgery or a life-saving procedure — those are moments I’ll remember forever.”
To raise money for these costly procedures, Stewart started a GoFundMe page in September 2019.
“All donations will go to the care of these pets and will surely make a difference in the owner’s lives as well,” he wrote on the fundraising page.
To date, Stewart has raised over $47,000 — tremendously exceeding his original goal of $10,000.
He has also partnered with a Los Angeles-based animal hospital and hopes that others will take time to volunteer with underprivileged animals.
He added, “Anyone has the power to help. You can volunteer at a rescue shelter. You can donate money or time. As that generosity spreads, it helps fuel the positive energy in the world.”
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