Homeless Pets Get Free Checkup in Downtown Los Angeles

There are about 12,000 homeless pets in Los Angeles County

The dogs and cats that had appointments at the clinic on Wednesday didn't appear to be having a tough time of it. One dog appeared to be enjoying what appeared to be a doggy facial during one checkup. A second pooch got its teeth examined. A cat wasn't too perturbed about being hoisted onto an exam table. It had the company of a toy stuffy nearby.

The patients were among 35 in line for wellness checks, treatments for fleas and arthritis and grooming. The free clinic was held for pets in homeless families in downtown Los Angeles near Skid Row.

"I don't think people appreciate enough how important homeless pets are to these people," said Kwane Stewart, the chief veterinarian officer for the American Humane Association that hosted the event. "They are a companion, a friend and, in some cases, almost like a family member.

"We're here to help these pets because indirectly it helps a homeless person too."

On any given night in Los Angeles County 82,000 people are homeless during some part of the year, according to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center. About 20 percent of homeless people have pets and struggle to get them health care, Stewart said.

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