Veterinarian Treats Pets of California Unhoused Community for Free.

Veterinarian Treats Pets of California Unhoused Community for Free.

March 5, 2024 by Cathy Stack

SAN DIEGO, Calif.—Twice a month for the past 12 years, Dr. Kwane Stewart, a veterinarian, has made his way to the homeless encampments in San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties to provide free medical treatment to the pets of unhoused people. He provides this compassionate pet care on his own time and asks for nothing in return.

Kwane travels on foot to freeway bridges, sidewalk tents and homeless encampments, seeking out animals who might need medical assistance. He comes prepared with a duffel bag filled with medicines, vaccines, syringes and treats for the many cats and dogs he encounters.

“It doesn’t matter what your situation is or what your background or past is, I see a pet in need, and I see a person who cares for them dearly who just needs some help. It’s at no cost to them. It’s free,” Kwane explained.

California’s unhoused community affectionately call Kwane the “Street Vet.” He has treated their beloved pets for various health conditions over the years, and they are grateful for his support. He has offered veterinary treatment for health issues like fleas, worms, wounds, infections and even broken bones.

Kwane’s welcome vet visits are often the only opportunity these animals have to receive much needed care. The compassionate doctor patiently answers pet owners’ questions and concerns. He listens without judgment to the struggles and stories of the people who live on the streets with their animal companions.

“These people out here who own pets, they’re looking for a normal life, they’re trying to get on their feet, they value companionship, and they need it,” Kwane said. “They are some of the most remarkable pet parents I’ve ever met.”

As a young boy of 7, Kwame dreamed of becoming a veterinarian to help animals. After earning his DVM degree from Colorado State University in 1997, he worked at various pet clinics and animal shelters across California.

During his time at animal shelters, he became deeply dismayed at the large number of abandoned pets, especially because the increase in pet abandonment led to higher euthanization rates. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that shelters euthanize approximately 920,000 animals very year in the United States.

Kwane was inspired to aid the homeless community with pet care after witnessing the incredible bond between unhoused individuals and their pets firsthand.

“They’re with each other 24/7 hours a day. They (the pet owner) probably get criticized more than anything, especially from people in the outside world. But I’ve seen people give up their last meal for their pet – and people who have $3 to their name and, after I’m done with the treatment, they will try and give me that $3,” Kwane shared.

Unhoused people are often incredibly loyal to their pets. They often do not enter shelter services because they refuse to give up their dog or cat to do so. In turn, the furry companions help their owners cope with the mental health issues, loneliness and despair they often experience while living in uncertainty on the streets.

In 2020, Kwane founded Project Street Vet, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to continuing his mission of care for the pets of the unhoused community.

The Foundation for a Better Life and PassItOn believe that Dr. Kwane Stewart is a hero. His action is a perfect example of the value of compassion. Kwane and his volunteers have kindly cared for thousands of animals over the course of the past decade. Please help us celebrate Kwane and his team by sharing their heartwarming story.

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Your Comments
Melina Balboni from Boston MARCH 6, 2024
So inspirational and heartwarming! God bless this Dr and all the pets and people he helps!

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