Many of Wichita’s homeless are expected to visit Inter-Faith Ministries Safe Haven Saturday to receive free veterinary care for their pets.
Veterinarian Dr. Christen Skaer and her nonprofit organization, the Sedgwick County Animal Response Team (SCART), are holding the first of their free triannual checkups, called Project Care, for animals affected by poverty and homelessness.
“It’s a real mental health issue for these people,” Skaer said. “If you don’t have anything else, but you have an animal, that can be a mental health benefit to you.”
Often times these people have outdated, or no, vaccination papers, preventing them from entering a homeless shelter. And if it comes down to choosing between a warm place to sleep or staying with their pets, they frequently choose to stay with the animals, according to Sandy Swank, the homeless services director at Inter-Faith Ministries.
“It’s very difficult because they consider their pets their family,” she said. “And a lot of times, you have people that will come in, that if they can’t bring their pets in they’re going to stay out with their pets. It’s just that serious.”
Funded completely by donations, Project Care will focus on:
- Vaccinations: rabies, distemper, parvo
- Upper respiratory vaccinations for cats
- External parasite control
- Micro chipping pit bulls
- Free spaying/neutering vouchers from Spay & Neuter Kansas
The focus in the early stages of Project Care is to treat ailments that are contagious to both animals and humans. Many of these procedures may cost an individual around $150 at a veterinary clinic, said Skaer.
Project Care takes place 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, October 12 at Inter-Faith Ministries Safe Haven, 841 N. Broadway.