A brand new meals pantry will launch on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles Monday, however this one is completely different as a result of it’s devoted completely to offering free meals for the canines and cats of unhoused pet house owners.
The pantry is the brainchild of Dr. Kwane Stewart, a San Diego-based veterinarian who over some 12 years of offering free medical providers to the animals of the unhoused on Skid Row and all through California has develop into often known as “The Avenue Vet.”
For that work, Stewart is a High 10 finalist for the 2023 CNN Hero of the Yr Award, to be introduced Dec. 10.
Situated on the Skid Row Group Refresh Spot at 544 Towne Ave., “The Canine Meals Pantry” will allow pet house owners who’re unhoused or struggling financially to take the meals they want for his or her animal companions — offering “satisfactory, constant vitamin” for pets’ complete well being, in line with Stewart.
Whereas it’s formally known as The Canine Meals Pantry, it is going to additionally present meals to assist feed the cats of Skid Row.
“The Canine Meals Pantry was conceived out the straightforward, years-long remark that unhoused pets wanted to eat higher and extra constantly,” stated the 53-year-old Stewart, who has offered free veterinary providers all through California — and is planning an growth subsequent month into New York Metropolis.
“I’ve offered free medical providers for therefore lengthy however had uncared for the truth that vitamin is essential to complete well being,” he instructed Metropolis Information Service. “Richard, as soon as an unhoused veteran that I’ve shaped a friendship with, helped me construct out the primary pantry in my storage.”
In response to Stewart, whereas there are providers that may come by Skid Row with pet meals, it’s normally on a haphazard schedule — and in the meantime, “in between, the canines are consuming their house owners’ meals or scrounging from the streets. Consistency is essential.”
Since January 2022, Stewart’s nonprofit, Venture Avenue Vet, has been aided by Fetch Pet Insurance coverage by a program known as “101 Donations.” By the top of this yr, Fetch Pet will match each donation as much as $101,000 to assist fund Venture Avenue Vet endeavors.
“The 101 Donations Marketing campaign has been a monumental success,” stated Stewart.
“Our development the previous two years due to this effort has exploded. With the extra sources we’ve been capable of practically triple the pets we’ve cared for. Since myself and all of my proficient veterinarians and nurses in different cities volunteer their time, we will stretch a greenback.”
Stewart’s mission to assist the pets of these in want started in 2011, because the U.S. was nonetheless rising from the good recession of 2008-2009.
He’d been the County Veterinarian in Stanislaus County in northern California, and was seeing an increasing number of surrendered pets filling his overcrowded shelter. Many wanted to be euthanized — anathema to why he turned a vet.
“I’m seeing hordes of undesirable pets dropped off, individuals who don’t have the cash to feed them or take care of them medically,” Stewart instructed CNN. “It began to steal part of my soul. I thought of leaving the veterinary occupation altogether.”
From these emotions, Venture Avenue Vet was born.
Whereas the brand new Los Angeles Canine Meals Pantry is Stewart’s newest reachout to assist the animal companions of these in want, it’s hardly his first effort within the space.
Final December, he teamed with the HolistaPet firm for certainly one of his Skid Row pet clinics. It drew the eye of quite a few native media retailers, and finally he appeared on NBC’s “Right now” present and received a nomination for the CNN 2023 Hero of the Yr award.
Stewart even received a name from a Hollywood producer trying to make a film about “The Avenue Vet’s” life.
“The CNN (Hero) nomination, adopted by the ‘High 10 Hero’ announcement a number of weeks in the past has been the only most important profit to my mission since beginning this work 12 years in the past,” Stewart instructed Metropolis Information Service.
“The visibility and heat outpouring of help has been wonderful. I can’t even think about if I win the highest award. It’s been some experience and a profession honor to serve these pets and their particular house owners.”
These trying to contribute to Venture Avenue Vet by the Fetch Pet 101 Donations effort can achieve this at fetchpet.com/psv.
Metropolis Information Service contributed to this text.