Vets treat the pets left out in the cold

A GROUP of St George and Sutherland Shire vets and veterinary nurses are helping care for pets whose owners cannot afford treatment.

As part of Pets in the Park, Leah Skelsey, Linda Warlond and Mark Kelman volunteer their time to help companion animals of people living rough in Sydney.

Dr Skelsey said a team of volunteers go to St John's Anglican Church, Darlinghurst, on the last Sunday of each month to care for the cats, dogs and rabbits that lived rough with their owners.

Pets can access a range of free services, including health checks, vaccines, parasite control and basic antibiotics. Owners need to bring a referral letter from a social service of some kind to access the service.

Vet nurse Linda Warlond said many regulars were turning up, which showed the community trusted the volunteers.

"People living rough may have a mental illness and withdraw from the community," she said. "This draws them back to the community as we are building trust."

The non-profit organisation recently received a $6000 grant from Sydney City Council and relied on donations to stay afloat.

Another volunteer, vet Mark Kelman, said his employer, Virbac Animal Health, regularly donated the vaccines that made the clinics possible.

The group has also received support from Princes Veterinary Hospital at Kogarah, which offers some services for free.

Dr Skelsey said people living rough cared for their animals as best as they could and often ensured their pets ate well, even if it meant they went without.

She said these pets had human companionship 24 hours a day and deserved health care.

"All a pet wants is companionship," she said.

Details: http//petsinthepark.org.au

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