For some of the most marginalised people in our communities, a pet can be the one safe and close companion they have in their world.

Yet pet owners who are experiencing homelessness or housing stress and living with limited socio-economic resources struggle when their furry friends become ill or injured and need expensive veterinary care.

Fortunately for Sydney’s inner city residents who are living on the margins, BaptistCare HopeStreet Inner City have teamed up with the University of Sydney Veterinary Teaching Hospital to provide a free monthly pop up clinic to treat the community’s beloved pets.

For those fortunate enough to access this vital service, they no longer face the tough choice of seeing their companion unwell.

One of the lucky dogs to receive care at the BaptistCare HopeStreet Pet Clinic is Lobby, a Red Staffordshire Bull Terrier who celebrated her eighth birthday last week.

Her owner, Janine, has been Lobby’s human-mum for half her life, after adopting her at age four when Lobby’s original owners, a local elderly couple who Janine supported with walking Lobby in the past, were unable to care for her anymore.

Watch Janine and Lobby on ABC News Breakfast.

In that time, Lobby has become a much loved part of Janine’s family. When Lobby began to show signs that she was struggling with constant pain and had difficulty sitting, standing and even lying down, Janine knew where to find help.

“The BaptistCare HopeStreet Pet Clinic provides options to be able to afford it. It’s a well talked about thing in the community,” Janine said.

Through the BaptistCare HopeStreet Pet Clinic, Lobby was able to receive a diagnosis and treatment for her worn knee joint. The required surgery for inserting metal plating was more than Janine could afford, and was generously covered by donors who contribute to the work of BaptistCare HopeStreet Pet Clinic.

“Some people have to make horrible decisions to give up their pets or take out loans,” she shared.

“I am so thankful for the service; the team at BaptistCare HopeStreet understand how important pets are. They keep the elderly company; get them up and about for their walks, alert people when things go wrong,” she continued.

A standard consultation with a vet can cost between $50 and $85*, and this is before additional costs such as medicines, vaccinations, tests and further treatment are added. For someone with limited resources, such an expense can lead to a very difficult decision. Do I get help for my pet? Do I watch them suffer? Do I have to give them up and let someone else take care of them?

The BaptistCare HopeStreet Pet Clinic began in April 2016 and is staffed by qualified veterinarians, veterinary nurses and students who volunteer their services once a month at BaptistCare HopeStreet Inner City in Woolloomooloo.

The service offers free treatment to the pets of some of the community’s most vulnerable, and exists to help alleviate the stress and worry of whether they can afford to care for their pets if injured or unwell. The Pet Clinic helps protect the special bond pets have with their owners.

It is also a great opportunity for veterinary students to apply what they are learning through their studies and for the Woolloomooloo community to gather and learn more about their pet’s needs as they strive to care for them well.

“It’s really important that we’re able to maintain the health of these pets, so they can in turn help the health of their owners,” Jessica Talbot, Veterinarian, University of Sydney

The BaptistCare HopeStreet Pet Clinic mainly cares for dogs and cats, but also attends to other loved creatures such as birds, rabbits and fish on occasion.

You can support our HopeStreet social workers who facilitate the Pet Clinic and other services that strengthen the community by responding to local concerns and aspirations. Donate to the work of BaptistCare HopeStreet here.