By Emerson Malone
Despite the dreary gray clouds, Sunday morning, April 22nd, was a good time to be a dog in Santa Barbara.
While many of Santa Barbara’s homeless residents took advantage of the free food supplied by preacher Hank Dorst during his Pershing Park “Hank Show,” volunteers from San Roque Pet Hospital supplied veterinary care for the guests’ four-legged companions.
“It serves an important role in Santa Barbara,” said Dr. Evelyn Brand, one of the volunteer vets. “We have a lot of homeless pets here.”
Vaccination of pets, flea/tick control, rabies shots, deworming, extra food and medications were among the free services the veterinarians provided…
“These dogs are all therapy dogs,” Brand said. “They should have a sign around their neck because I think they help stabilize these people.”
The volunteer doctors also gave out certificates to prove that the dogs had had their rabies vaccinations, which remedies a common problem for homeless pet owners, Brand said.
“[They] get hassled for not having a rabies vaccine [for their animals],” she said. “[This way] they will have proof and they won’t have their dog carted away to animal control. That’s a big thing they come here for. They want to keep their friend.”
It was the eighth time in three years these volunteers have put on the event.
The pets nursed were generally in good health, said Dr. Ann O’Brien Welton, an associate veterinarian at San Roque Pet Hospital.
While on the streets, many homeless residents take good care of their companions. Still, oral hygiene and flea infestations are among the biggest problems that come up.
“There are people who come religiously to make sure they get what they need from us,” Welton said. “We try to educate them and let them know that flea and tick control is really important.”
WillBridge resident Marjorie Brandon, who brought her dog Foxy to the park, said she feels truly blessed by the service.
“I do my own research online and … take her to Vetco [Clinic] for flea baths,” Brandon said.
Foxy, a fox terrier and miniature pinscher mix, received a physical exam during which she was checked for fleas and given a shot for her coughing.
All the pet owners received chew toys and leashes for their pets.
“We try to give as much away as we can that is suitable for a dog,” said veterinarian technical assistant Nicole Dydasco. “… The pets are all they have, so it’s good to keep the animals healthy. It’s making them feel like they’re helping their pets. I’m glad we can do this.”
The Santa Barbara Humane Society and San Roque Pet Hospital donated the food, medication, and vaccines for the volunteers.
Photo of San Roque Pet Hospital Veternarian and Tech examining Foxy, a fox terrier and miniature pinscher mix. Fozy belongs to WillBrodge resident, Marjorie Brandon.