COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND ACTION PLANS
There are a number of events around Seattle that are held to help bring services to people in need. One of the goals of this project has been to engage with these events to increase presence of animal-related care for people who have pets. We have successfully added a veterinary services component to three such events, including the Feel Good Project by Facing Homelessness, the United Way Community Resource Exchange, and a first-time-ever Pet Support Day following the Seattle King County Clinic. Community partners for these events included the Seattle Animal Shelter, the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic, the Seattle Humane Society, and was supported by volunteers from veterinary clinics in and around the greater Seattle area. Additionally, we are working to bring basic human health care services to the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic to increase access to preventative care to those who are bringing their pets in for care.
" I haven't had much contact with homeless people although I work with people who have quite a range of socioeconomic status, from people with minimal resources and opportunity to people who are well off financially. I would have to classify the culture of the environment in which I work as a judgmental one. I often hear the phrase, "If you can afford a pet, then don't have one." I have to admit that a small part of me agrees with that. But now I get how important these animals are to the people who need their comfort and support the most.
I went home that night after spending the day with you all in the alley and got home to be surrounded by the love and warmth of my dogs and thought to myself," why shouldn't everyone have this? It's so unfair." Every time I think of the Lady and Josh story I cry. Even while I'm during surgery.
So I feel like I got an important piece of education that day, and I would be honored to be a part of it again." ~ Feel Good Project volunteer veterinarian
Community Needs Assessments:
Over the past year the Center for One Health Research has been administering needs assessment surveys to homeless and low-income pet owners in the greater Seattle area. Two needs assessments are being conducted: one that focuses on access to and utilization of veterinary care for the pet and one that focuses on access to and utilization of medical care for pet owners. Combined, these will help indicate the types of barriers that homeless pet owners experience while seeking medical care for themselves or their animals, the medical issues they are dealing with, and their interest in having a One Health clinic option available to them.
Creation of a "One Health" Clinic:
The long-term goal of the this project is the implementation of a shared clinic where persons experiencing homelessness could receive medical care for themselves and veterinary care for their pets at the same location. This model recognizes the importance of the human-animal bond in this population and helps to remove barriers to medical care by decreasing transit needs and offering a welcome clinic space for animals. Additionally, by having physicians and veterinarians working side-by-side it allows for increased communication surrounding patient care for both humans and animals, an important component when considering issues such as zoonotic disease and shared environmental risks and exposures that people may be facing with their pets. This clinic model would also work closely with the various mobile medical clinics for homeless persons in and around the greater Seattle area to reach as many people in need as possible.