Extending skills beyond the clinic

Written by: Hannah Durling
Published on: 2 Jun 2021

Husky Blue

Husky Blue has attended every single week since StreetVet Norwich was formed.

Claire Willis from Norwich identified a need for StreetVet’s services in the Norfolk city.

StreetVet is a charity that was founded by Jade Statt and Sam Joseph in 2016. What started as two vets and a backpack in London is now run by an army of volunteer vets and VNs in 17 locations across the UK.

Claire was instrumental in the launch of StreetVet Norwich in January 2020. She collated a committee of 10 dedicated volunteers who each put themselves forward to be responsible for a part of the charity, such as organising the finances, recruiting, training and collating the volunteer rota, fund-raising and events management, social media representation, liaising with local hostels, kennels and pet taxis, and organising all the clinical aspects to help make Streetvet Norwich happen.

All of their efforts have enabled them to form a “practice on the streets”, which is essentially run from a (very full) rucksack, and all while still working full time at their individual clinics.

StreetVet Norwich has also formed a close relationship with a network of practices, with Taverham Veterinary Hospital being the first in the queue. It also works closely with its local soup kitchen, which has enabled it to form a meeting point for the sessions to occur and quickly build a trusting relationship with its clients.

It has been, probably, one of the most difficult years to set up a committee due to the limitations posed by COVID-19, but after many hours of hard work (and many Zoom meetings) StreetVet Norwich was able to assemble volunteers to go out weekly to treat homeless people’s dogs on the streets. It has managed to accomplish many great achievements, thanks to Claire’s endless dedication and the many hours put in by her team (currently about 20 regular volunteers).

The team has performed a number of procedures, including a heart scan, abdominal scan, mast cell tumour removal, uterine tumour removal, orthopaedic referral, hospitalising a dog with severe haemorrhagic gastroenteritis, as well as routine neuters and providing 24-hour emergency care.

Friend for life

Of course, on top of this each week, all the dogs the team sees are health checked; provided any medications and preventive health care products as needed; given lots of treats, toys, bedding and coats; and, most importantly, every owner is always greeted with immense warmth and an ear for him or her to talk to in times of need.

Moreover, its Amazon wishlist has been a huge success after selling out in less than 24 hours, enabling it to create a personalised Christmas hamper for each and every dog – a real treat after such a challenging year. The team has also found a friend for life with Husky Blue, who has attended every single week since StreetVet Norwich first started, and has proven to be very good at receiving and giving hugs – much to volunteers’ delight.

Not only has StreetVet enabled us to help dogs and their owners, but the dogs and their owners have also helped the team in ways they may not know possible – by restoring the ability to always remain thankful and humble in life.

I feel so lucky and fulfilled, not only to be part of a charity that provides free vet care on the streets, but also to be part of a team of such lovely dedicated people, who all work together to achieve the same goal.

l If you are interested in volunteering for your local StreetVet branch or starting up a branch in your city, email join-us@streetvet.org.uk