This selfless vet found a new way to care for homeless animals

… and the homeless owners who love them.

Rachel Omnès | Unsplash

It all began when a British veterinarian asked herself a question while walking down the street, one that any dog lover (or, any person with an actual, beating heart) might think of when passing by a homeless person and their dog.

How do they care for the dogs?

And we all wonder this for good reason. We worry that neither the human nor the animal is getting the health support that they need. But Ruby, the kind-hearted vet, didn’t just think the question. She answered it. And her actions are changing lives, both human and furry.

So at the young age of 22, she decided that she didn’t want a lack of financial resources to prevent homeless owners for getting their dogs the care that they need, and she opened a free clinic that offers a variety of services—vaccinations and flea care, for instance—to people who live on the street for free. Ruby says she began doing this not only because she loves animals (she is a vet, after all), but because she clearly loves people.

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What truly amazed me about Ruby’s story is just that: her compassion extends beyond the dogs she treats to the owners who love them; She sees them not as vagrants or problems but as human beings who need companionship and who love their dogs.

“It’s lonely on the streets,” Ruby says. “If you’ve got a dog with you, you’re not alone.”

Watching this BBC video of Ruby the veterinarian might help the rest of us, snug in our homes with laptops and families, better understand those who live on street—people who often sacrifice what scant resources they have to care for their dogs. One client of Ruby’s passed on several apartments because they wouldn’t allow dogs. And this is not unusual: homeless people may give up spots in shelters, where dogs are not allowed, and make their small portions of food even smaller by sharing them with an animal. They would rather sleep on the street and go hungry, than risk losing their companions. Because that, too, is an essential need. It reminds me that no matter what our housing situation, we are made to love and be loved.

Ruby’s clinic picks up those heavy hearts, and allows people of limited resources (or none at all) to keep that much-needed comfort and unconditional love in their lives. Being homeless can make for a very isolating life, and these pets alleviate that loneliness.

Though some may be tempted to scoff at the idea of offering free care to dogs when the people need so much help I believe that helping these dogs is helping the people. Just consider Eddie, one of Ruby’s clients, who says he talks to his dog Tara and that she “gets it,” and “it’s not at all “stupid.” Having a companion helps him alleviate some of those burdensome feelings, and it helps him feel understood. Sometimes we all need someone to listen to us. Be it Tara the dog or Ruby the vet.

 

Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira

Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.

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