Volunteer vets to help homeless people's pets on the borough's streets
A team of generous vets are giving up their time to help homeless people's pets on the streets of the borough.
Animal charity Street Paws has launched its latest outreach provision in Leigh assisting service users at Homeless Support Project (HSP).
A dozen people are now signed up to give expert advice and general care to canines whose owners do not have a roof over their heads.
Sessions will be held every month after the initial event saw an impressive level of demand for the vets and an instant understanding between the charity’s team and the service users.
Street Paws has arrived in the borough thanks to the charity’s Michelle Southern, who has set up no fewer than 14 similar schemes around the country.
Michelle said: “We were contacted by a group of vets around six months ago who said there was a need in Leigh.
“We now have 12 volunteers and have just held our first session where we saw four dogs, which is virtually unheard of during our first visit somewhere.
“It’s not unusual for us to see no animals during the first outreach because people like to suss out who we are and feel confident that we are not going to take their dogs away from them.”
Street Paws provides free veterinary care including vaccinations, flea and worm treatments and general health checks to animals in need.
Microchipping and treatment for infections are also commonly offered and in the rare cases that more serious surgery is needed dogs are taken to local vets using money raised in the local community.
Street Paws says it is delighted to be working with HSP and helping the rough sleepers who are extremely devoted to their four-legged friends.
Michelle said: “The volunteers at HSP see a lot of people at the soup kitchens they put on who have animals and need some extra help.
“That is what veterinary medicine is all about - helping animals and in turn helping to ease the burden on their owners.
“A lot of people who live on the streets are turned away from normal accommodation because they don’t accept animals.
“These dogs are part of their families so they choose to stay with them instead. There’s no way I would give up my pet, either.
“We have seen about 120 dogs now with Street Paws and I can hand on heart say that no animal has ever needed any intervention. They are all very well looked after.”
The charity’s work has been boosted by food company Pets Choice which has donated supplies to hand out to homeless people at sessions including those in Leigh.
The next session takes place on the first Wednesday in May.
For more information about Homeless Support Project and its work visit www.hspleigh.co.uk