Why We're Needed
More than 6,500 homeless people were identified during San Francisco's 2009 biennial homeless count. VET SOS recognizes that keeping pets of the homeless healthy sustains the physical and mental well-being of their human owners. Often, these pets serve as a sole source of emotional support, promote responsibility, and act as social catalysts for interactions with other people. By combining the efforts of animal health care providers and human health care providers to reach out to this often-wary population, VET SOS builds trust, enabling further outreach and education.
VET SOS serves as a model, offering training opportunities to ensure that future veterinarians, vet techs, nonprofit workers, and human health care providers have the practical skills to support homeless families. Equally important, however, is the experience of being part of a collaboration that recognizes the integral connection between human and animal health, the importance of giving back to the community and supporting its most vulnerable members, and the feelings of empathy and awareness that this engenders.
- Improve the health of companion animals of homeless San Franciscans
- Decrease the spread of infectious disease
- Reduce pet overpopulation
- Foster the human-animal bond
- Provide health information and referrals to homeless San Franciscans
- Champion the welfare of homeless pet guardians and their companion animals
What We Do
VET SOS uses a specially outfitted van to provide its outreach and veterinary services in selected areas of San Francisco that are inhabited by homeless individuals with companion animals. The project visits the Castro/Mission, China Basin, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury and Bayview-Hunter's Point neighborhoods on the second Friday of each month. In addition, the project provides its services at San Francisco's six annual Project Homeless Connect events in the City's Tenderloin neighborhood, and in Golden Gate Park during Notre Dame de Namur University's Thanksgiving Day Picnic with the homeless.
The van carries veterinary vaccinations, medications, medical charts, animal food, leashes, collars, halters, and other necessary supplies that are dispensed on site by a volunteer staff that includes one or more veterinarians, one or more vet techs, and an animal assistant. When possible, an animal behaviorist joins this team.
VET SOS provides the following services:
- Wellness exams, ear cleaning, nail trimming, and other routine veterinary procedures
- Heartworm tests for dogs over 6 months old, if test kits are available
- Heartworm preventative (1/month for dogs under 6 months old or who test negative for heartworm)
- Feline leukemia testing, if test kits are available
- Vaccinations and rabies certificates (certificates to be given only if animal is spayed/neutered)
- Minor procedures not requiring general anesthesia
- Referrals to one of our partners for serious illness and procedures requiring general anesthesia
- Referrals for free spay and neuter surgery and assistance with transportation
- Free monthly Dog Training drop-in sessions are now available for VET SOS clients by appointment only
- Free Emergency Transport and Acute Care now available on a limited basis
If an animal is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia:
All animals must be spayed or neutered in order to be seen at the clinic if they are over 6 months of age. If an animal is over 6 months of age and not spayed or neutered, clients will be given the opportunity to have their pet spayed or neutered at minimal or no cost. If this service is refused after the first visit, VET SOS will not accept the animal for future appointments.
Services are for eligible VET SOS clients in good standing ONLY and who are currently homeless.
We respond to voicemail on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
1550 Bryant St.
San Francisco, CA 94103