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Danae Davis: Executive Director of Project Street Vet

Project Street Vet offers free veterinary care for pets of those experiencing homelessness in southern California. By providing everything from basic check-ups to life saving surgeries, Project Street Vet has helped thousands of pets remain healthy and with their loving owners. Learn more about the impactful work that landed Project Street Vet a CNN Heroes nomination here!

How common is it for individuals experiencing homelessness to have pets, and what are their needs?

Project Street Vet mainly provides services in Southern California between San Diego and Los Angeles, with Los Angeles typically remaining one of the top two cities with the highest number of unhoused individuals along with New York City. Although pet ownership among unhoused families is only estimated, it’s expected to be anywhere from 10-25%. This means thousands of people and their companion animals in America are living unhoused with limited or no access to proper care, including veterinary care.

The number one thing our pet owners struggle to find help with is veterinary care, mainly due to cost (which is not an issue only for unhoused individuals), but other factors also come into play like transportation. Additionally, we see needs for quality pet food, supplies like leashes/harnesses, and training. Studies have shown that pets of people experiencing homelessness are in equal and in some cases in better health than those who are housed, although access to veterinary care remains a challenge.


What kind of support do you offer to these pets?


Through our programs, we try to address as many of these needs as possible, focusing on veterinary care while also offering services like donated supplies and transportation to veterinary appointments through Uber Pet. The main veterinary care programs we offer are conducted by volunteer veterinarians, technicians, and assistants that either do street outreach we call “Street Vet Work” or public events alongside homeless service provider organizations. 

During this outreach, free exams, vaccines, flea meds, supplies, spay/neuter vouchers, and more are offered by our teams and information is gathered for follow-ups and additional care. Care and supplies are provided by Project Street Vet at no cost to pet parents. If pets need more medical attention than what we could provide during our visit, we arrange for them to be seen and treated at a nearby veterinary hospital and sponsor costs of the visit. If there are services we cannot offer, we try to connect pet parents to other great groups who might be able to help!


Are there any stand-out Project Street Vet stories that have stuck with you?


One story that always sticks with our team is the story of Richard and his dogs. Our founder, Dr. Kwane, and our San Diego team met Richard, Leia, and his second dog Pudding (who has since passed of old age) while doing Street Vet Work in Ocean Beach, California. Richard is a veteran who fell on hard times, resulting in him living in a car with his dogs and without work. He was offered a place to stay, but his dogs were not allowed. He told our team, “I can’t give them up. They’ve always come before me. I’ve gone without eating, but they haven’t. If you take the responsibility of being a pet owner, they gotta come first.” We were able to provide Leia and Pudding care that day, but our conversation with Richard stuck with us— he was such a remarkable pet parent trying his best to get by. We wanted to ensure they had access to veterinary care they needed and were able to set up an appointment for Leia to get spayed. Dr. Kwane made a few more check-ups and Leia was doing great. However, Richard expressed his desire to work, but without an operational car or a place for his dog to stay he felt trapped.


Dr. Kwane kept in touch and told the story to a company he was working with named Holistapet. They felt so compelled to do something for Richard and Leia, that they bought him a working vehicle. Months after he met our team on the street and through simply sharing his story, Richard now had a working vehicle, was able to get a job that allowed his dog to come with him, and ultimately got housed with Leia. It just shows that sometimes people are only a few steps away from being housed or unhoused, and sometimes acts of kindness can make lasting impacts on peoples’ lives.

What is the best part of your job?


I would say both the success stories/words of thanks from pet parents we have helped and the team I get to work with. I have heard some of our veterinarians say they don’t receive the same gratitude for the veterinary care they are providing in their normal practice as they do from the pet parents we assist. A lot of the pet parents we help are in tears knowing their pet, which they consider family, is getting the care they need. Additionally, the team I get to work with from our board, to volunteers, to staff are all fantastic human beings and I am grateful to get to work alongside them. I look forward to helping Project Street Vet continue to grow so we can make a more lasting impact on people and their pets in their times of most need.


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