WATCH: Vets for Pets is a program that offers free veterinary care to the pets of homeless and low-income individuals in Victoria. The founder has now been given a $10,000 to expand it to other cities. Isabelle Raghem reports.
Darla the chihuahua is one of the furry friends who get a lot of care and attention from Dr. Jane Vermeulen. But now, it's the veterinarian and her volunteer work that is getting the attention — with a national award.
"I spend a lot of time downtown [and] I see people living on the streets or very low-income people and they have their pets and I know those pets are loved and as a vet, I can do something useful and meaningful to help the pets," says Dr. Vermeulen.
The Victoria-based vet has been named one of the 10 winners of the 2018 L'Oréal Paris Canada "Woman of Worth" awards for her work with homeless and low income pet owners. In 2009, Dr. Vermeulen launched Vets for Pets: A program that has provided free veterinary care to over 1,000 pets and their owners.
"It's exciting, it's overwhelming," says Dr. Vermeulen. "Vets for Pets will be receiving at least $10,000 for the program and that means we can keep it going."
"[Vets for Pets] also helps people that maybe don't need the service because those pets living on the streets they could potentially spread disease so by protecting them we're actually protecting the entire pet population," adds the veterinarian.
Dr. Vermeulen and a group of about a dozen volunteers give care to over 60 pets once a month at Victoria's Our Place, 10 months a year.
"I know some people will say that someone who lives on the streets shouldn't have a pet, we get that but they do, and for a lot of people on the street it's their only constant in their life, it's their only companionship," said Dr. Vermeulen in her "Woman of Worth" 2018 honoree video.
Vermeulen says the money will also go towards expanding the program to cities outside Victoria.
She is also in the running for an additional $10,000 which will be given to the "Woman of Worth" with the most votes on the L'Oréal Paris Canada website.
You can see every honouree and vote for your favourite "Woman of Worth" here: L'Oréal Paris Canada "Woman of Worth" awards.