The 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report found that more than 326,000 persons were homeless on any given night in that year. According to estimates by the School of Social Work University of Southern California Los Angeles, as many as 25 percent of those who are homeless live with pets.
Pets can be crucial to people’s well-being while they are unhoused. “It makes us The ElleVet Project want to take the best possible care and set them up for success,” said Amanda Howland, Co-Founder of The ElleVet Project, a national mobile relief effort providing free veterinary care to pets in vulnerable communities.
Unfortunately, the struggles of having a pet while experiencing homelessness come with its own unique challenges. Common struggles include shelter limitations and access to medical care, food and everyday pet care supplies, resulting in significant stress to the pet parent. Many people experiencing homelessness choose to stay on the streets in unsafe conditions rather than move to a shelter, leaving their pets and they also may feed their pets before themselves, causing even further struggles.
Many shelters do not allow pets to stay with their owners, especially if their pet is unvaccinated, which is where The ElleVet Project helps. The ElleVet Project was founded in 2020 in response to the lack of resources that the homeless and their pets have access to and the Covid-19 pandemic. Out of a 38-foot RV, also known as the ElleVan, multiple veterinarians travel around the United States to treat pets of people who are unhoused. Within the first two months of service, The ElleVet Project treated more than 1,200 pets and met thousands of people who are unhoused. One of the most common treatments the ElleVan veterinarians provide are vaccinations so that the pet can stay in animal-friendly shelters with their pet parents. Howland explains, “By providing vaccinations, we are also helping people get into shelters too.”
Along with vaccinations, The ElleVet Project provides free veterinary care and supplies to pets of the homeless. This often includes a physical examination. If the pet needs emergency care, The ElleVet Project will get in touch with local veterinary surgeons and pay them to perform the surgery and provide necessary aftercare, and if the pet requires ongoing medication, The ElleVet Project connects the pet parent with free or low-cost clinics in the area and provides them with any medication needs they have.
The ElleVet Project is a 501c3 that relies on donations to purchase vaccines and medical supplies, as well as, to pay for emergency surgeries. You can donate and learn more through their website ElleVet Project. Follow the ElleVet project on Facebook and Instagram @theellevetproject and see some of the thousands of pets treated by The ElleVet Project team.