A ‘Tail’ of Compassion: Dr. Kwane Stewart’s Journey to Help Homeless Pets

Dr. Kwane Stewart and patient. (Source: Project Street Vet)

Dr. Kwane Stewart never intended to be a hero. He simply wanted to make a difference. It began with a chance encounter outside a convenience store, where he met a homeless man and his dog. After treating the dog’s skin condition, Dr. Stewart was struck by the man’s gratitude. “Thank you for not ignoring me,” the man said. Words that would change the course of Dr. Stewart’s life.

For over a decade, Dr. Stewart has been providing free veterinary care to the pets of people experiencing homelessness. Through his nonprofit, Project Street Vet, he and his team of volunteers visit homeless camps and walk the streets where the homeless gather, offering medical treatment, vaccinations, and supplies to animals in need. They do this without judgment, focusing on the strong bond between pets and their owners.

Dr. Stewart and patient. (Source: Project Street Vet)

Dr. Stewart recognizes the significance of this bond, particularly for those who have lost nearly everything else. “A pet doesn’t care about nice furniture or a big home,” he said in a CNN interview. “They just want to be with you.” By caring for these animals, Dr. Stewart and his team are not only improving the lives of the pets but also offering hope and dignity to their human companions.

What began as one man’s mission has evolved into a nationwide movement. Inspired by Dr. Stewart’s example, a network of veterinarians and volunteers has formed, working together to expand the reach of this essential service. Project Street Vet now operates in multiple cities, with plans to grow further.

As CNN’s 2023 Hero of the Year, Dr. Stewart’s dedication has earned well-deserved recognition. In a characteristic act of generosity, he chose to split his $100,000 award with the other nine finalists, emphasizing the collaborative spirit that drives his work. Combined with a $90,000 grant from the San Diego Foundation, these funds will help Project Street Vet reach even more animals and their owners.

Dr. Stewart’s work is a testament to the power of compassion. “It doesn’t matter what your situation is or what your background or past is,” he said in the CNN interview. “I see a pet in need, and I see a person who cares for them dearly who just needs some help. It’s at no cost to them. It’s free.”

Dr. Kwane Stewart — a veterinarian whose nonprofit, Project Street Vet, provides medical care to the pets of people experiencing homelessness — is the 2023 CNN Hero of the Year. Online voters selected him from among this year’s Top 10 CNN Heroes.

Watch this news story about Project Street Vet in Orlando, Florida.

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About Angels in Medicine

Angels in Medicine is a volunteer site dedicated to the humanitarians, heroes, angels, and bodhisattvas of medicine. The site features physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other healthcare workers and volunteers who reach people without the resources or opportunities for quality care, such as teens, the poor, the incarcerated, the elderly, or those living in poor or war-torn regions. Read their stories at www.medangel.org.

Interested in writing for Angels in Medicine? Know about an Angel we should interview? Drop me a note at harry@medangel.org.

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