Pets offered free vet checkup in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 8, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

VANCOUVER — Melinda Zale watches intently as a veterinarian examines Halo’s belly.

“She’s been trying to tell me something. I think she might be pregnant,� Zale tells the vet. “I’m really hoping she is.�


CLICK HERE to view more photographs related to this story, or if using a handheld device, tap the image above and swipe.


Halo is one of Zale’s best friends. Her other best friend is Remo. The pair are her pet rats.

Zale doesn’t have much money and trips to the veterinarian can be costly. So when she heard Vancouver-based charity Paws for Hope was hosting a free one day clinic in the Downtown Eastside, she brought them in for a checkup.

“I’ve never had anyone love me as much as my rats do. They’re there for me no matter what,� she told The Vancouver Sun during her appointment.

Halo was one of 45 pets — including dogs, cats, three rats and one rabbit — seen at the clinic Sunday. It was the sixth clinic the charity has held since Kathy Powelson founded it in 2011, and the third hosted by Raincity Housing’s Triage Shelter.

Turns out it was too early to tell if Halo was expecting.

“One of the things that’s been really amazing for us is to witness the bond between people and their pets,� Powelson said.

Volunteers from Scottsdale Animal Hospital in Surrey treated the pets. Most of the owners they helped out receive some form of income assistance and, from what Powelson has seen, would feed their pets before they would feed themselves.

Shawna Taylor brought her dog Josiah and cats Joey Shithead — named after a Vancouver punk rocker — and Freak in for care Sunday.

“They’re my kids. They’re not my pets, they’re my children,� Taylor said.

“They’ve given me a reason to wake up in the morning and move on with my life and not just sit still.�

Taylor, who receives disability benefits, said caring for her animals has required strategic thinking.

“I’m resourceful,� she said while waiting for the results of a checkup on her cats.

Taylor said she volunteers and knows a lot of people. Over time she’s found a few locations that give away pet food.

“I’ve done so much resource wrangling that I’ve even got places like PetSmart, that if they have a damaged bag of dog food and I’m in the neighbourhood they’ll give it to me.�

In the three years Taylor has had Josiah she’s only had to pay for his food twice, she said. That’s a good thing.

“My biggest expense is not my dog. It’s the cats,� she said.

Taylor pays out of pocket for cat litter and special cat food. But if she’s in a pinch before payday, there are places she can turn for help.

“I go to the fire department,� she said. “I say: ‘Hey man, I hate to ask you, because I know you use it for absorbent, but do you have a spare bag of kitty litter?’�

Tags: , , , , ,

Copyright © 2020 RatChatter All rights reserved.
RatChatter v1.0 theme from