Seattle Veterinary Outreach helps pets on the streetsand their owners, too

dvm360dvm360 January 2019
Volume 50
Issue 1

Dr. Hanna Ekström treats the homeless pets of Seattle in her nonprofit mobile veterinary unit.

Photos courtesy of KNKX Public Radio)

Dr. Hanna Ekström gives Ripper an eye exam. Her nonprofit, Seattle Veterinary Outreach, treats pets of the homeless.

This story is reposted here by way of a partnership between dvm360 and KNKX radio in Seattle. Hear the full audio story that aired June 11, 2019.

Things are moving fast for Hanna Ekström, DVM.

Dr. Hanna Ekström explains the dangers of obesity in dogs to Mister's owner, Brian Carroll.

Only five months after getting her nonprofit license, Ekström has treated more than a hundred pets from the back of her mobile veterinarian unit - all while running her own private practice. She started Seattle Veterinary Outreach in December to treat pets of the homeless in her spare time.

Rachele Valadez (left) and Dr. Hanna Ekström unfold a sign to hang on the mobile unit to let people in the area know they are open for business.

Ekström and her assistants use the opportunity during clinics to interact with people who “frequently feel isolated from the society at large,” she says. And their approach has helped - her team has connected homeless and underserved individuals to services for themselves, too.

Dr. Hanna Ekström (left) and Rachele Valadez prepare the mobile veterinary clinic for patients outside the Recovery Cafe in Seattle on May 24, 2019.

The tests are donated by Abaxis. Ekström relies on donated medical equipment and supplies in order to provide her services for free.

Dr. Hanna Ekström prepares to do a complete blood count for Ripper, a dog, using a donated CBC machine.

SVO relies on donated items such as medicines, food and syringes to treat their patients. Recently, the Seattle Foundation Youth Grantmaking Board chose to donate some of its grant money to Ekström's organization, which was a tremendous help to the cause. 

Dr. Hanna Ekström holds Mr. Kitty during his examination. Mr. Kitty's former owners had him declawed, which poses health risks in cats.

Ekström also has reached out to others in the community to help expand her outreach into even more committed work. In particular, a four-week program to help unsheltered people train their pets to behave well in public.

Dr. Hanna Ekström and Rachele Valadez prepare for their next patient, Maggie.

“In the process of training your pet in a positive way, you're teaching people behavioral skills that will radiate out into their normal interactions with other human beings,” Ekström said.

Dr. Hanna Ekström listens to Dexter's heartbeat

Brian Carroll, owner of Dexter and Mister, said his two dogs kept him moving after he lost his leg.

With the help of her assistants Rachele Valadez, Erin Tabor and Nevin Kalaf, Ekström set up shop at the Recovery Cafe on May 24. In this story, Ekström talks about helping underserved people through their pets.

Dr. Hanna Ekström takes a moment between patients to finish some notes.

Shauna Sowersby originally produced this story for KNKX Public Radio, a regional NPR member station based in Seattle-Tacoma. Click here to read the original story, hear the original audio and see a series of photos.

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