The co-author of a recent North American study on the health of homeless pets hopes to combat the stigma that these pets are not well cared for by their owners.
âI think there was a long speech saying, ‘If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of a pet? “” said Michelle Lem, founder of Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO), which conducted the study with the University of Guelph.
The charity connects homeless people with health services by providing veterinary care for their pets.
âIn the last 18 years that I have done this work, it doesn’t really match the reality that many of these pets are well cared for and that they experience the same types of conditions as other populations of. pets [have] in private clinics. “
For the study, Lem said, the researchers used the pet medical records of more than 1,100 clients who accessed CVO outreach clinics, which have partnerships and locations across Canada and the United States. United.
From these recordings, the team analyzed each animal’s primary body condition score, which is an indicator of overall health, and found that the majority of the animals were healthy.
âWhat we saw was that the primary score was 5.4 out of nine – now an ideal score for cats is five and for dogs is four to five,â she said.
The study also analyzed each animal’s bodily system, which includes oral, skin and muscle health, as well as cardiovascular health. who accessed private clinics.
“The oral cavity, the skin as well as the gastrointestinal tract [gastrointestinal] complaints were the most frequently reported anomalies and againâ¦ these are also the things we see reported most often in private practice, âshe said.
“Where there are differences is access to care and access to preventive veterinary care, access to emergency care or chronic care.”
Pets considered a lifeline, says veterinary technician
The Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo and Stratford Perth works with CVO and has coordinated pop-up outreach clinics in the past to provide veterinary care to owners of homeless or vulnerable housed pets.
Stacy Murphy, a licensed veterinary surgeon and clinic coordinator in Perth, said the animals she has treated are well cared for, as many homeless people often put the needs of their pets before their own.
If their pet is sick, they will put the animal before their own needs and they take really good care of it because they are with them 24/7.– Stacy Murphy, Veterinary Technician, on How Homeless People Treat Their Pets
âIf their pet is sick, they will put the animal before their own needs and they will really take care of it because they are with them 24/7,â Murphy said.
Murphy said pets are also a lifeline for homeless people and a reason people take care of themselves as well.
âThis bond is so strong that they will do anything to keep themselves healthy to ensure the safety of their pets,â she said, adding that outreach clinics play an important role in keeping these pets safe. healthy animals.
Like Lem, Murphy hopes the study will raise awareness among those who are permanently homeless about pet ownership.
“The stigma is there, but we hope that will change with more studies like this showing that there is good health among these animals,” she said.
You can listen to Michelle Lem’s full interview on The Morning Edition below:
Morning Edition – KW5:31New study hopes to fight stigma and raise awareness about homelessness and pet ownership