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AVMA Convention attendees volunteer with The Street Dog Coalition
Veterinary professionals at the 2022 AVMA Convention were given the opportunity to give back to the Philadelphia community through free veterinary care
During the 2022 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention, some attendees volunteered with The Street Dog Coalition to give pet owners experiencing homelessness free veterinary examinations, complimentary food, and essential supplies. The event was held on July 31, 2022, from 9 AM-1 PM EST. Once on site, volunteers were then broken up into a morning shift and an afternoon shift. At Norris Square Park, teams set up a check-in area, waiting area, pop-up clinic stations, food, and supplies stations, and more for the community to get the resources they needed.
“Pets offer us love and companionship, and in return, we need to provide them with care and nutrition, but when the owner is homeless, sometimes giving the animal everything that it needs is challenging,” said Jose Arce, DVM, former president of the AVMA, in an organizational release.1
“As we return to an in-person Convention, we are delighted and thankful that we can join with The Street Dog Coalition, Merck Animal Health, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition to offer high-quality, free veterinary services and supplies to these animals in our host city of Philadelphia,” he concluded.
When arriving at the exam table, pet owners were provided a hygiene kit for themselves and their pets, providing them with dog food, collapsible water/food bowls, toys, treats, leashes, and collars.1 Provided by Merck Animal Health, clients at the clinic also received vaccinations and preventatives for heartworm and flea/tick medication. Along with Merck’s contributions, Hill’s Pet Nutrition provided up to 350 free bags of cat and dog food.
“It is about taking care of both ends of the leash and to have an awareness of people that are living unsheltered on the streets. Many, if not every, city in the USA [those experiencing homelessness] are often being stigmatized for many reasons and including they should not own a pet,” said Jon Geller, DVM, founder of The Street Dog Coalition, in an interview with dvm360® on-site at the event.
“But we found that in their world of stigmatization, social isolation, dysfunction, high incidence of mental illness, health problems, drug abuse issues, addiction issues that their pet is often their only and best friend, and their only family member really. A pet provides them unconditional love and acceptance, and we try to do the same thing in our clinics,” he continued.
For any pet that needed a spay, neuter, or other surgery, they were referred to a Philadelphian veterinarian who donated or reduced the cost of these procedures at their clinic.
AVMA, Merck Animal Health and Hill’s Pet Nutrition Join The Street Dog Coalition to Offer Free Veterinary Clinic for the Pets of People Experiencing Homelessness in Philadelphia. News release. American Veterinary Medical Association. July 31, 2022. Accessed August 11, 2022. https://www.avma.org/news/press-releases/avma-merck-animal-health-and-hills-pet-nutrition-join-street-dog-coalition