In September 2017, Jade Statt, co-founder of StreetVet, a social enterprise helping homeless animals invited me to spend a day shadowing her.
Then, Jade and her co-founder Sam Joseph had a small team of vets and nurses who were helping dogs in London.
Now StreetVet has 275 volunteers helping animals in eight different cities and their journey has been remarkable.
I’ve written about StreetVet for Closer, the Sunday Mirror and for my own pet blog and in September was invited to the first StreetVet conference in London.
Seeing the volunteers who dedicate their time to care for the vulnerable pets and provide emotional support for their owners was so inspiring.
Andy Hutchins, one of their clients and owner of Staffordshire Bull Terrier Bailey spoke at the event and shared what StreetVet meant to him and how the volunteers had helped him turn his life around.
He’s now in his own home and is training to be an outreach worker. Five years ago he was a former heroin addict who had just left prison.
It was when he rescued Bailey, then a tiny four week old puppy, that his life changed and he turned his back on crime and drugs that very moment.
When he spoke of the bond between them and his appreciation of StreetVet and the support he’d received it was an emotional moment.
Talking about Sam, 32, Andy explained: “Sam showed me an interest. He spoke to me on a certain level. It wasn’t ‘homeless person’ and ‘posh vet bloke’. It was just two people, talking about football.
“He built a relationship with me before he attempted to get near Bailey, which went a long way. Then, he had my dog checked over.
“They’re in the same place every week, so you get to see their faces and get to know them. It’s changed my life.
“Now, I’m on the verge of getting my own house, and it’s thanks to the massive support I’ve had from StreetVet, over the last 18 months.”
Sharing the stories behind their work – stories like Andy’s – helps people understand the bond homeless people share with their dogs and why having support from StreetVet is so vital.
The Overtake, an independent website which cares deeply about social issues, ran my story following the conference as part of their homelessness campaign and you can read it on the link below.