Veterinarian patrols streets of Montreal offering services to homeless pets
Isabelle Pinard takes her mobile clinic on rounds at night to visit four-legged patients
Montreal veterinarian Isabelle Pinard wants to help the city's homeless care for the health of their animals — and she's doing it by bringing her expertise to the streets.
For the last year, Pinard has set up a bi-monthly animal clinic outside the Berri-UQAM metro station. On a typical day, she examines about six animals brought to her by homeless owners.
But now, Pinard has begun nighttime patrols in her car, looking for people on the street with pets. She says she can offer a range of services from her mobile clinic.
"In general, I will do vaccines and microchips. Sometimes, there are medical problems, so I can prescribe medication," Pinard said.
"So it's like a clinic service, but smaller."
'It's your best friend'
During her first night on patrol in December, Pinard got a tip about a man on the street with his dog in the Hochelaga borough.
She drove over and met Sebastien Plamondon, who was bundled up in a coat and blanket along with his 2-year-old dog Balou.
Plamondon used to be homeless, but now has a place to stay. Still, he spends time on the street with his faithful furry companion.
"It's a friend — it's your best friend. He'll be there with you. He doesn't betray you," Plamondon said. "And people stop more, they'll talk with you more."
Pinard inspected the dog, and found him to be in good health. She gave Plamondon dog food for Balou, and went back on patrol.
Plamondon thinks there are many people on the streets who can benefit from Pinard's mobile clinic.
"It's about one person out of two or three, I believe, who have dogs and live on the street," said Plamondon. "They're not all in good health like [my dog]."
A few blocks away, Pinard visits the CARE Montreal warming station on Ontario Street.
Pastor Michel Monette says they allow homeless people to bring their pets to the station.
"It's very important for us," Monette said.
"If someone needs to stay warm, or have a place to sleep, and [they've] got a dog or a cat … we do have food for them, and we'll take care of them."
Pinard is trying to get the word out, so she's come to Monette's church to explain her new pet patrol project to Monette.
"It's such a great initiative," said Monette about the animal clinic on wheels for the homeless.
"Their animals are sick, and no one can take care. They can barely take care of themselves, money-wise."
Pinard plans to go out on patrol once a week, looking for pets, and owners, in need.
"It's a joy to do that, because it's helpful for these people," Pinard said.
"My hope is to change society, if I can."