UW-Madison: Reaching the homeless by caring for pets

CONTACT: William Gilles, 608-890-2713, [email protected] and Maurice Gattis, [email protected] (phone number available on request)

UW-Madison students team up at free veterinary clinic

A clinic started by a local veterinarian, the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and a UW-Madison professor of social work is reaching out to vulnerable families by offering free veterinary care to their pets.

The clinic, known as Wisconsin Companion Animal Resources, Education and Social Services or WisCARES, has been operating for about a year and a half in Madison. It brings together students from the School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Social Work as well as community volunteers.

Veterinary students help provide care, gaining crucial experience before they embark on their clinical year of school, and social work students gain invaluable experience working to connect clients to other social services, including housing and health care.

“People care about their pets to the umpteenth degree and sometimes, their health or housing are not at the forefront,” says Arie Hylkema, a junior majoring in social work who volunteers at the clinic. “We are trying to get a good idea of where they are at, because most people don’t come here for housing advocacy but they are here and it comes up.”