A helping paw for dogs on the streets

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Vets on duty at Trustypaws. Pic © George Adams JMU Journalism

A new partnership between the Big Issue and the University of Liverpool aims to help vulnerable pets across Merseyside.

Trustypaws is a charity created through the collaboration of the two organisations to care for the most at-risk animals and it is governed by veterinary students at the university who volunteer as clinical directors.

The Big Issue allows Trustypaws to use its Parr Street building as a makeshift clinic to treat pets that accompany people living on the streets. They provide the animals protection from the most common illnesses and give immunisations against worms, fleas and ear mites.

Clinical director for Trustypaws and third year veterinary student, Alex Chester, told JMU Journalism: “When I came to Liverpool I was genuinely shocked with the level of homelessness.

“We all love the opportunity to give back and, contrary to what you might think about the homeless, they’re the ideal client. They listen to what you say and will do exactly what you advise. Some are initially cautious as they think you’re going to take their pride and joy away from them, but once they know that you only want the best for their pet, they’re so engaged.

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“Working with the homeless and vulnerable people you need to be able to develop a relationship based on trust so collaborating with the Big Issue establishes that bridge for us. Having the Big Issue as a partner gives us those embedded links and contacts within the community to develop the trust between us.”

The aim is to ultimately make Trustypaws the place where the homeless and less fortunate in Liverpool go to make their dog healthier. The organisation assists people in unfortunate circumstances, helping anyone who cannot afford expensive veterinary care, including those in sheltered accommodation and people on benefits.

One of the goals of the student-run organisation is to dispel the myth that homeless animals are often mistreated.

Freya Townsend, clinical director and fourth year veterinary student, said: “There’s a lot of misconceptions about homeless animals but the truth is they are actually their pride and joy. To a lot of the city’s homeless they are their only constant companion that they can rely on. They absolutely treasure their dogs.”

Trustypaws meets every second and fourth Saturday of the month from 9am until 11:45 in the Big Issue offices on Parr Street.

About George Adams, JMU Journalism