NFA recently spent an afternoon at the Trusty Paws Clinic and met some dogs, and their devoted owners, who have fallen on hard times.
Founder and president Ruby Shorrock was inspired when she found out about a Nottingham, UK project that had been set up to help the pets of homeless people. In Glasgow, where she is studying to become a vet, she found out that there was no similar project, and in fact there were no hostels at all in the city who allow dogs.
This prompted Ruby to start a clinic for dogs belonging to the homeless and vulnerably housed of Glasgow, which would be run by the vet students. She formed the founding committee of The Trusty Paws Clinic with other students in her year, and the first clinic was in October 2014, with another clinic recently opening up in London.
Homelessness in the UK has soared by a staggering 50% since David Cameron became Prime Minister, with many people now in a situation that they never imagined themselves being in.
There is a sad minority of individuals who don’t believe homeless people should have pets if they can’t afford to look after them. However it is testament to the bond between a dog and their owner, that many people would rather sleep rough with their beloved pet by their side, than go to a warm hostel, and abandon their dog to rehoming. No devoted pet owner who knows the comfort an animal can bring during difficult times, could expect these people to do anything but keep their dogs close to them, in the hope that things will soon get better for them both.
Thanks to Trusty Paws, these owners are able to do just that, and access services such as:
- Dog food and treats
Dog care supplies and accessories
Referral for extra veterinary care
Tea and biscuits are also on hand for the owners, and a friendly environment has been created, so that they can stay and have a chat. During NFA’s visit, Ruby and her staff, all of whom are full time veterinary students, were organising further vet treatment across the city for some of the dogs who needed specialist care. Often, they will drive people to appointments if they find it hard to get there themselves. And occasionally, Ruby and her staff encounter dogs like Carter, above, who at 46 kilos, looks tough, but is in fact scared of the train, so needs to be driven instead!
Before leaving, the owners are given good stocks of dog food and treats, and if necessary, new harnesses and collars, along with a card to let them know when the next drop-in clinic will be. There is even a volunteer photographer, Karen, who takes pictures of the animals, and provides the owners with a memento to take away on their next visit.
NFA are delighted to see Trusty Paws doing well in Glasgow and in London, and providing an invaluable service to humans and dogs in need. The companionship of a beloved dog is often the thing that keeps people going through hard times, and there are few harder things in life than finding yourself with nowhere to live.
We were delighted to give a small donation to Trusty Paws, which will pay for more harnesses, leads and dog treats for a while to come!
Special thanks to Karen Gordon for providing these photographs.