Pop-up clinic provides free vet care to LA's homeless with pets

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- "I love my dog. I love my dog. He's my heart, my everything." Cherie Rucker is among the growing homeless population in Los Angeles, and her bulldog, ManMan, sticks right by her side.

The latest count shows nearly 58,000 homeless individuals in Los Angeles County alone, and experts estimate that around 20 percent have a pet. That's more than 10,000 dogs, cats and other animals.

But homeless pet owners typically can't afford to provide quality health care for their companion animals.

"A lot of them have never seen a veterinarian before, so for some pets it's the very first time seeing a vet. It's just a wonderful opportunity to provide services for those in need," one volunteer veterinarian said.

That's why the Frank Rice Access Center on Julian Street was turned into a veterinary clinic Wednesday.

"It's amazing to see. You know, a lot of these people would rather feed their dogs then feed themselves. And it's really sad but at the same time amazing. And I feel like half of these people are alive because of their animals," said another volunteer.

American Humane and VIP Pet Care sponsored the event that provided vital health care services to the pets of homeless people like Edward Irvine who came in with his three dogs Apollo, Cherry and Precious.

"They keep you calm, you have responsibilities, you know they're around, they know when you're feeling sad," said Irvine. "It's just wonderful support. You know they love me no matter what."
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