If you are a pet owner, then you know that there is nothing more special to you than your furry little friend. Pet owners will do anything for their pets, from feeding them to bathing them to keeping them healthy. The keeping them healthy part can be the most difficult part of owning a pet.
Not only is it difficult keeping a pet healthy, it can also be incredibly expensive. Even with pet insurance, which has a hefty monthly premium, major operations or simply providing your pet with a check-up, can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Not everyone is prepared to pay those costs.
Among the people who struggle to pay those costs are the homeless. Homeless people often have pets for companionship. One veterinarian is doing his part to make sure that homeless pets get taken care of too, by providing these pets with health care free of costs. Here is his story.
Dr. Kwane Stewart is a veterinarian with a big heart. While most people would see a homeless person with a pet and not think twice about them, he does something different. He will grab his bag of supplies and ask if they need any help. In many ways he is like a veterinary superhero! This 49 year old veterinarian spends his free time wandering around impoverished neighborhoods in his home of San Diego, as well as Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco, and attempts to hand out free vaccinations and veterinary care to homeless animals.
Dr. Kwane Stewart spoke with TODAY and said, “I love the work. I do it because it's hugely rewarding to me, spiritually. I'm just very fortunate to be living out my dream to be a vet in the first place.”
Dr. Kwane Stewart didn't start out with big goals of becoming a vigilante vet on the streets. It all started back in late 2007 when the Great Recession hit. He saw many stray animals at the Modesto, California animal shelter where he worked - a byproduct of people not having enough money to properly care for them. In the economically challenged area where he worked, it was especially a problem.
In an attempt to show good values to his son bv teaching him the value of giving back, he took his son and his girlfriend to the local soup kitchen and asked anyone if they needed him to examine their animals. It ended up being an incredibly popular service. “I knew then and there I was going to keep doing it. There's so much need out there.”
Dr. Stewart does admit that sometimes homeless people aren't receptive to his help since they often find themselves abused, but he says their attitude usually changes once he begins helping their pets. “As I examine their animal and really give focus to their animal - not them - they just begin to open up. Some of the things these people have gone through that they've shared with me, is remarkable.”
Beyond helping the animals, Dr. Stewart wants to help people see the depth and nuisance of homeless people. People tend to have a preconceived notion about the homeless, but he has since developed a TV show about what he does to help the homeless community, hoping to help push their stories out to the public. Don't think he's some rich TV star though. He is still paying off his student loans from veterinary school!