The Mayhew’s 17 Years Working With The Homeless

(Mayhew Press Release) This month, The Mayhew Animal Home is marking 17 years since they started helping and providing personal support for the homeless and their pets. Since 2000, The Mayhew was one of the first animal charities to start working with the homeless.

As well as reaching out to rough sleepers on the streets in many London boroughs, The Mayhew’s Animal Welfare Officers visit 15 homeless centres regularly each year and work tirelessly with several organisations including Thames Reach, Spitalfields Crypt Trust, The Salvation Army, St Mungo’s, Crisis, and Broadway Homeless Hostel and Drop in Centre, to offer support and advice to homeless people.

A dog is often a homeless person’s only companion, but the added expense of vet and food bills puts an extra burden on people who are already in a vulnerable situation. However, the Mayhew’s Animal Welfare Officers offer all homeless dog owners free general health checks and microchipping and provide collars with tags and leads, jackets for the dogs in the winter months, dog food, treats, and poo bags.

Not only do they supply vital items for the animal, they are also there to support and advise the owner too, however difficult the situation may be, they never judge, and are always available to help.

The Mayhew encourage and give dogs free neutering, vaccinations and a general health check with a Mayhew vet on site at their Community Vet Clinic in Kensal Green; as well as also attending the annual Crisis at Christmas, setting up a temporary clinic with their vet and Animal Welfare Officers to give homeless guests’ dogs a thorough health check and preventative veterinary care.

The Mayhew also offer advice and assistance on caring for their dogs while they receive help and support from Crisis; as well as also running a Pet Refuge scheme, providing support and foster care for pet owners facing a personal crisis and with no option of help to care for their pet. This may be for a number of reasons including hospitalisation, old age, rehab, detox for alcohol and drug addiction, or even those sent to prison.

Pet Refuge involves The Mayhew’s Animal Welfare Officers finding the best possible foster carer for the dog or cat for the duration of the crisis period, ensuring that the animal is placed into the familiar environment of a home rather than a potentially stressful shelter environment. For many people facing a personal crisis, their service is a lifeline.

The Mayhew’s Head of Animal Welfare, Zoe Edwards, said: “In this job you deal with a lot of situations where the owner is going through a hard time and just needs some support and advice to help them with their animal. We are often referred to as ‘Animal Social Workers’ because we are able to help and support vulnerable people in need with their animals – and ultimately keep the owner and animal together.

“I remember helping a local homeless man, Wully, and his two gorgeous dogs, Gallis and Bo. When I first met Wully he was sadly living on the streets and was completely addicted to alcohol. He had been drinking since he was 11-years-old and would drink four bottles of super-strength cider a day, and is convinced that he would not have survived much longer had we not persuaded him to put his dogs into our Pet Refuge programme and go to rehab.

“This case just shows how important our homeless work and projects are for vulnerable people and without them this could have ended very differently for Wully.”

Case Studies
The Mayhew have helped hundreds of homeless dogs and their owners over the years. In the past month alone, they have assisted dogs including 11-year-old Mimi, a black and white Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and eight-year-old Bobby, a blue Staffordshire Bull Terrier; they both usually come in to The Mayhew’s Vet Clinic with their owner Andrew for a general health check.

Andrew is one of The Mayhew’s regular homeless hostel clients who they support and this time he called directly as he was concerned about some cysts and lumps that he discovered on Mimi. The Animal Welfare Officers arranged a vet check at The mayhew’s clinic straight away and both dogs were also given flea and worm treatments.

The Mayhew also visit several homeless hostels to check on doggy residents such as Stella, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Stella gave her owner, Ian, a real fright when she suddenly stopped being her bouncy, playful self. At 15-years-old, Stella still acted like a young pup, so when she became quiet and withdrawn, Ian knew something was wrong. Ian went to the local homeless hostel, who had The Mayhew’s emergency number, and called immediately.

Our Animal Welfare Officers arranged for Stella to come into The Mayhew’s Community Vet Clinic straight away for a thorough health check where they discovered Stella’s tooth had become severely infected causing her terrible pain. The Vet Team took an X-Ray and discovered that the tooth would need to be removed, but not before the infection was cleared up.

Stella was provided with a three-week long course of antibiotics and seven days of anti-inflammatories, which thankfully got rid of the infection and allowed The Mayhew’s vets to perform surgery and remove the decaying tooth, as well as giving Stella a scale and polish, and flea and worm treatments too.

Stella stayed with The Mayhew for two nights until they were confident she was able to be back on all four paws again. Their Animal Welfare Officers continue to regularly check in to see how Stella and Ian are doing and to make sure she has plenty of food supplies.

During the month, The Mayhew also neutered a three-legged homeless Staffie called Sugar, who also spent a couple of nights boarding at The Mayhew, while she recovered from the surgery.

Furthermore homeless client, Linda, said: “My dog is my life. It’s me and Holly, that’s it, against the world. If I didn’t have these people then I wouldn’t be surviving with her. They are the best people ever to have about.”

The Mayhew’s Animal Welfare Officers have built up a trusted relationship with the homeless, so much so that they call Officers and turn to them for support and help whatever the situation, including Lucky and her owner Gulbar Hussain.

Poor Lucky had been hit by a car last year while she had been crossing the street near Portobello Road, London, with her owner Gulbar, who said: “Who would do something like that? Hit a poor defenceless dog and leave them there to die. I was terrified. I’ve had Lucky since she was a puppy and she has always been by my side. The thought of not having her here scared the life out of me.”

The four-year-old Staffie was later brought into The Mayhew and their Vet Team discovered that she had broken her hind right leg and fractured her pelvis. She was in a lot of pain and could hardly move. The Vet Team monitored Lucky’s condition closely over the next three weeks and thankfully after receiving medical treatment and lots of rest, Lucky was allowed to continue her recovery with her owner. She needed cage rest for a further five weeks before returning to The Mayhew for a check-up.

In this particular case, The Mayhew covered all of the veterinary costs for Lucky as her owner was in a vulnerable situation; as well as also providing a collapsible cage and physio tips so that Lucky could continue her recovery once she had been reunited with her owner.

The Mayhew’s Animal Welfare Officer, Tania Mazzoni, added: “A dog is often a homeless person’s only companion and they create this incredible bond. Lucky and Gulbar would be lost without each other and that’s why it is so important we try and keep them together. The Mayhew strives to tackle the companion animal welfare crisis from every possible angle. We are proactive and innovative, working to help animals and their carers by running outreach community initiatives.”

For many homeless people, their dog is their best friend, so The Mayhew are proud to have helped keep them together and to provide essential veterinary care to so many animals over the past 17 years. Every year their Animal Welfare Officers and Community Vet Clinic respond to hundreds of animals in need. The Mayhew rely solely on public donations and receive no lottery or government funding. So please consider a donation by visiting www.themayhew.org/donate to help them help even more animals.

If you are interested in fostering an animal through The Mayhew’s Pet Refuge scheme then please contact The Mayhew on 020 8962 8000 or info@mayhewanimalhome.org.

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