'It's The Only Family Member They Have'

Dr. Schmidt started Project Street Vet Atlanta to care for the animals that need it most and to help the people who often don’t know how to ask for help.

ATLANTA — A veterinarian in Atlanta is working to end homelessness – one animal at a time.

Dr. Kristen Schmidt started a nonprofit a few months ago to lift people up by helping their pets stay healthy. Schmidt has already treated more than 70 dogs and cats that don’t have homes but have an owner.

And there’s no waiting room for her services, her office is on the streets.

She started Project Street Vet Atlanta a few months ago in Atlanta. It’s an initiative that has been on her heart for a long time and believes every pet deserves access to care – whether their family lives in a home or not.

“At first, it’s scary. I am not used to stepping into this environment, I am on their turf,” she said about visiting encampments around the metro area.

As the homeless population in Atlanta grows, so does the population of homeless pets, living on the street.

Schmidt said she’s called to care because of how fiercely the families of these pets want to protect them.

“A lot of them will feed their animals before they feed themselves,” she said. “So even if they only get one meal a day, imagine giving that to your pet over feeding yourself.”

Schmidt keeps spreadsheets of each animal she treats so she knows when they’re due for their next flea and tick prevention, and how much food they have left. Oftentimes though, she said their owners already know when such care is due.

The veterinarian began visiting homeless pets in April, as much of the pandemic eviction relief dried up nationwide. She said she met several people on the street who couldn’t make it without their pets.

“It’s their friend, it’s protection, it’s the only family member they have,” she said. 

Schmidt said in a way, caring for animals helps humans too.

Keeping a pulse on pets and people – you don’t need office walls for that.

“I believe veterinary care and access to vet care should be accessible to everyone, whether you’re housed or not,” she said. 

Schmidt has an Amazon wish list set up. If her mission speaks to your heart, you can find out which supplies she’s in need of here. Whatever you pick is delivered right to Dr. Kristen’s door, so she can hand it out to the animals that need it most.

11Alive Investigators are examining why tents line Atlanta’s freeways and why families struggle to find stable housing in their three-part series The Way Home. Read Part 1: The Problem 

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