LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Dozens of people on Sunday, along with their furry friends, filled Reutter Park in Lansing for free veterinary care. It’s called The Street Dog Coalition, and it’s run by volunteers.
In the United States, more than 900,000 animals are with owners who are homeless. But sadly, once these animals are sick, they’re often euthanized, because their owners can’t afford a vet bill.
“I love my dog. My dog is my heart and soul. I have a three-year-old rottweiler named Nova,” said Phillip Harris, who attended for the free vet services. Before events like this one, he had nowhere to go for help–and as a result, he ended up saying goodbye to his best friend.
“I had a rottweiler before. Her name was Riley and she meant everything to me,” Harris said. “When we moved into the building, she ended up getting sick and I had to put her down. I didn’t have the money.”
This was an all-too-common story for people at today’s event, looking for help. And what makes it harder is that these animals are much more than just pets; they’re family.
“I don’t have really anybody in my life, really, that cares about me as much as my rottweiler does,” said Harris. “She really, truly loves me, and I love her. She’s my baby girl.”
With the help of The Street Dog Coalition and dozens of Michigan State University students, Harris was able to get his current dog seen by a vet, and his cat is scheduled to be neutered at no cost to him.
“These people need to be recognized for the stuff they’re doing,” Harris said. “Like I said, they don’t get paid for this. The stuff they’re doing is really important and it really makes a huge difference.”
But these volunteers did much more Sunday than just looking after animals. “The street outreach team for Spartan Street Medicine is here to serve people, doing blood pressure checks and stuff like that,” said Dr. Christie Donahue, DVM, Street Dog Coordinator for the Street Dog Coalition. “We have groomers here from PetSmart today, as well as offering nail trims and grooming for the pets. Then, we are also offering lunch and pet supplies and things like that to go home.”
The Street Dog Coalition and its many volunteers will be back at Reutter Park next May. They’re also looking to open another chapter of The Street Dog Coalition in Michigan, in order to help as many people, and furry friends, as possible.