Helping homeless dogs stay healthy
Homelessness is a life plagued by uncertainty and insecurity and a dog can provide much needed companionship to people experiencing hard times. The Trusty Paws clinic has been set up by University of Glasgow students to provide care to homeless dogs in Glasgow.
The monthly clinics provided by Trusty Paws give people the opportunity to have regular check-ups for their pets. The team also provide:
- Flea and worming treatment
- Dog food, blankets and coats
- Neutering to prevent over-population
- Referrals for advanced veterinary care
Providing much needed care
Local vets from across the city, along with lecturers from the Vet School, volunteer their time to oversee the clinics, allowing the students to gain invaluable practical clinical experience. Paul Eynon, University Lecturer & Clinical Skills Vet, regularly volunteers at Trusty Paws. He explains, “Trusty Paws allows our students to practise their skills and apply the knowledge they’ve gained from teaching, in an authentic environment. The benefits are three-fold: patients and clients are able to access much needed care, the students are able to hone their skills in a safe and supportive environment and I have the privilege of witnessing a snapshot of my students, actually doing what they’re working hard towards achieving.”
Dr Charis Lorenz, a vet from Glasgow, became involved with Trusty Paws in 2015, and assumed a central role on the Trusty Paws committee. She believes there is something different and unique about the relationship Trusty Paws users have with their pets. “The bond our clients have with their dogs is so special as their animals give them psychological and emotional benefits when they have fallen on tough times.”
Karen brings her dog Marley regularly to the clinic and has encouraged her friends to do the same. She first heard of the service when she was homeless and didn’t know where to turn when her dog became ill. “I come here regularly to make sure Marley is in good health. The team also carried out all his vaccinations and microchipped him. I also bring my friend’s dog Princess to help her out. I can’t praise the team highly enough.”
Mark visits the clinic with his dog, Bro, a cross Border Collie / Shar Pei who has ongoing problems with his ears. “Bro is my best friend”, he says. “I’ve had him since he was 6 weeks old and he’s now ten. I first heard about Trusty Paws through my doctor when I told him about my concerns about keeping Bro healthy. The team arranged for him to be neutered, which I wouldn’t have been able to afford. He was like a different dog after that, much calmer. It’s a brilliant service, the best.”
Trusty Paws was founded in 2014 by Ruby Shorrock, a then fourth year UofG Vet student, and since then it has gone from strength to strength, developing a network of students, vet clinics, and charities working together to support homeless people living with their companion animals.
The clinic is supported by Simon Community Scotland, the largest provider of homeless services in Scotland. The partnership enables the Trusty Paws team to care for the dogs, whilst also providing their owners with help and advice from the dedicated staff at the Simon Community Hub.
To ensure Trusty Paws can continue to meet the demands of the rising numbers of dogs visiting for treatment, the team rely on continued support from their partners and plan a series of fundraising activities throughout the year.
Charis explains, “We want to continue to provide the best service for the community and a safe, welcoming environment for those who need it most.”
You can donate to support Trusty Paws to help more homeless people and their dogs.
About Trusty Paws
Trusty Paws is a monthly drop-in service providing care for any person experiencing homelessness who has a dog. The clinics are run by student vets and ensure dogs stay healthy under the supervision of the recently qualified founding vets.
Trusty Paws clinics operate out of homeless centres and drop-in facilities so that owners can get support for themselves as well as help from the vets. The success of the clinic is evident in the establishment of another ‘branch’ of Trusty Paws in Liverpool, where students were inspired by the Glasgow model.
Find out more: Trusty Paws