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Homeless pet clinic run by vet volunteers

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Homeless pet clinic run by vet volunteers a welcome relief for people living rough
By Dea Clark

Updated 54 minutes ago

A volunteer vet treats the dog of homeless man Peter Swan

For one Sunday a month, the car park of the Salvation Army's Brisbane headquarters is being transformed into a makeshift veterinary clinic.

Key points:

  • Pets in the Park offers free pet treatment, vaccinations and desexing for homeless people
  • Brisbane clinic founder Jackie Campbell said it was as much for owners as it was for pets
  • A second Brisbane clinic and another on the Gold Coast are expected soon


The sound of barking dogs breaks the morning silence as dozens of homeless people queue to have their pets examined by the volunteer vets and vet nurses.

Peter Swan is among them.

The 57-year-old former lawyer and his German shorthaired pointer Saxon found themselves on the street after Mr Swan lost his job.

"I'd been living in a dog park and someone had mentioned to me there was a free vet service that was within walking distance," Mr Swan said.

"I came because my dog was due for vaccinations."

Each night across Australia, more than 8,000 people are estimated to be sleeping rough, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics — and many of them have beloved pets.

But when those animal companions need even routine veterinary care, the cost can put it out of reach for some of the most vulnerable.

National charity Pets in the Park is easing the financial strain for pets and owners in Brisbane by providing routine treatments, vaccinations, desexing and general health checks.

Vet Jackie Campbell (L) and Pets in the Park administrator Katie Winston


The care is provided by a team of volunteers, including vets and vet nurses.

They provide food, medication and other treatments through the support of the community and corporate donors.

Mr Swan said he now had access to vet care he could otherwise not afford.

"Monthly worming tablets or heartworm tablets … even surgery at one stage. Pets in the Park is fantastic," he said.

Colin Young brought his precious puss Julie Newmar, named after the American actress and singer.

He said she received treatment worthy of any movie star.

"This cat, when she goes upstairs to be attended to, they all fuss over her like she's some sort of baby and I think, 'oh please'," he said.

Colin Young and his cat Julie Newmar Young


When the clinic first opened three years ago, its only patient was a pet budgerigar.

They now treat about 30 animals a month.

Jaq Sampson's dog Diesel is another regular.

"Diesel is my emotional support animal. He's my reason to get up in the morning — without him, I wouldn't be here," he said.

Brisbane Pets in the Park co-founder and vet Dr Jackie Campbell said the service was as much about the pet owners as their animal companions.

"A lot of our clients will put their pets first, so we do find that they'll buy dog food and pet food for their pets before they'll potentially feed themselves," she said.

Monica with her pet Azrael (L) and Jack with Diesel at Pets


The pop-up clinic was timed to coincide with a monthly Sunday roast at the Salvation Army's Streetlevel Mission.

Mission team leader Paul Maunder said the clinic helped his service connect with people who might not otherwise seek help.

"We want to give people a little bit of a taste of heaven," he said.

"We want people to know they're valued, accepted and loved and for people doing it tough in life that doesn't always happen."

A second clinic recently opened on Brisbane's northside, and there are plans for another on the Gold Coast.

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Love initiatives of this. If anyone you know is struggling with homelessness or the risk of, in addition to Pets in the Park (what the article is about) there is also Pets of the Homeless which works with many councils across Australia: https://petsofthehomeless.org.au/


and many vet and animal welfare organisations have smaller programs for those struggling with homelessness. e.g in Melbourne we have Lort Smith Hospital, Animal Aid, RSPCA, Underdog rescue, Save-a-dog scheme


They have also recently started some pets in family violence programs, for those in such a situation and cannot leave for the sake of their pets e.g Jessie Street Domestic Violence Services and Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre


and if anyone wants to volunteer to help out when such organisations are doing bigger intiatives like the post, they frequently get listed here: https://www.volunteer.com.au

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