Woman behind 5 years of care for London’s homeless and their dogs launches first ever weekly ‘doggy station’, offering free medical services and essentials to street dogs throughout Capital.
An all-volunteer, not for profit initiative has been launched to invite London’s homeless dog owners to a weekly static station where they can receive free veterinary checks, food, essential products, training advice and grooming.
The Dogs on the Streets, or DOTS, project led by Michelle Clark, launched in the middle of March this year as a monthly effort but has already attracted repeat visitors as word has spread among the homeless community, resulting in a call for a weekly service.
“After 5 years of on foot outreach via my Off The Streets and Breakfast in a Bag projects” Michelle explains, “I’m so pleased to have developed relationships with a great number of homeless dog owners, services and product providers that has enabled me to launch DOTS in a more permanent way.”
Located on The Strand every Sunday from 2-4pm, the service is regularly attended by the wider DOTS team from volunteer vets and groomers to dog behaviour specialists as well as trusted pet care suppliers to ensure a homeless dogs every need is catered for during their visit.
“My ultimate goal is to have regular stations in all major UK cities, run by professional volunteers, to give them a helping hand.” said Michelle.
After over 12 years working in media I have recently taken a 3 month sabbatical to focus on some other passions of mine, from wellness to local voluntary work.
I think calling myself a crazy dog lady would be an accurate description. I grew up with dogs as the family pet, from Alsatians to Staffies and I’m now a humum to Rupert the Mini Dachshund.
An ideal day out for me when I was a child would often involve me begging my mum to take me to the local dog shelters where I would sit on the floor, the bars between us, just chatting to them or poking my fingers through to give a stroke.
In adult life, if I am walking down the street and I see a dog on the end of a lead walking on the other side of the road towards me, I will often find some sort of reason to cross paths with it to say hello. When passing a dog, my husband often points out that ‘I’m making that strange clicking noise again’ as I extend out a friendly hand to their nose.
A few years ago I volunteered for Crisis at Christmas, specifically in the dog centre where the homeless with dogs would register to stay for the week. Although in many ways heartbreaking, seeing the love between the dogs and their owners was beautiful. The owners weren’t allowed to stay in the same room as the dogs overnight, so they had to trust us, the ones assigned to the dog room to take good care of them. The owners were fidgety and lost without their fur babies, the fur babies equally so.
So with a background in digital marketing spanning over 10 years, and finding out about DOTS through Jade, one of Rupert’s vets, the moment I saw the request for a volunteer blogger I jumped to it! I love writing and storytelling, I guess as a marketer you have to be good at engaging people. So to have the opportunity to tell such wonderful stories about London street dogs and the work of DOTS is the perfect combination. I am so very inspired by Michelle and the team, it’s an absolute privilege to be involved in such important work.
I have my own blog – www.vickygooden.com – where I write a bit about wellbeing.
Michelle Clark, founder
United Kingdom (London)