An interview with City Vets Exeter, one of our partner vet practices
We recently caught up with Claire Smith, a vet nurse at City Vets Exeter - one of our partner vet practices on the Together Through Homelessness vet scheme.
Read about her experience of supporting dog owners experiencing or at risk of homelessness and their pets below.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the practice you work at?
My name is Claire Smith, I’m a registered veterinary nurse and have worked at City Vets in Exeter for 16 years.
At City Vets Exeter we are proud to provide our clients and their pets with the highest quality, professional and caring service. The practice is equipped with the latest in technology and facilities, enabling us to look after the most critically ill patients and provide them with the highest standard of care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Everyone at City Vets is dedicated to providing the very best in Veterinary care for the long-term health and wellbeing of the animals entrusted to our care. We treat all pets as if they were our own.
How long has City Vets been working on the Together Through Homelessness vet scheme?
City Vets have been working on the vet scheme for well over a decade.
What do you find the most rewarding about supporting Together Through Homelessness clients and their dogs?
The most rewarding part of supporting the Together Through Homelessness vet scheme is not only seeing the difference we make to dogs’ lives, but also to their owners’ lives too. For many homeless people, their animal can be their only relationship. Their animal is their whole world and gives them a purpose in life.
Have you had any challenges when supporting our mutual clients in the past?
One of the biggest challenges we face is when there is a need to hospitalise a dog, therefore, separating them from their homeless owner. The dog often struggles as the surgery is a very unfamiliar environment and they have often never spent any time away from their owner before. Equally the homeless person often struggles as they rely so heavily on their dog, who is often the only one in the world they trust. In these cases we work with the appropriate services to support the homeless person and work to reunite dog and owner as quickly as possible.
Is there any particular Together Through Homelessness story that stands out to you?
We often find that homeless people, like the rest of us, love to share stories about their pet. One particular story stays with me; the homeless person had struggled with their mental health. He told me at a particularly low point, he wasn't sure that he could carry on, and considered taking his own life. At his darkest moment his dog laid his head on his lap. He says he knew then he had a reason to live, and that his dog needed him to care for them.
Many homeless people tell us that if they lost their pet, they would lose any incentive to take care of themselves. You don't have to be homeless to realise that a pet is good for your health and your well-being, how important they all are to all of us.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, and to your colleagues at City Vets Exeter for all your support on Together Through Homelessness.
To find out where else in the UK we have partner vet practices, look at our map here.