Updated: Jul 22
Do you have a pet you love (and who doesn’t love their pets)? They are so cute and full of fun, but best of all, they love us, too.
An important part of being a pet owner is looking after our furry friends; making sure they have enough to eat and going to the vet if they need medical care. Imagine how sad you’d feel if you couldn’t care for your best mate because you didn’t have enough money.
Salvation Army chaplain, Captain Michelle Davies-Kildea, knows how upset people become when they can’t afford to take their beloved pets to the vet. She works in St Kilda (in Melbourne) with people who don’t have anywhere to live or who don’t have much money at all.
“Pets always love us, always sit on our knee or want a pat,” Michelle says. “Pets are so important for people going through a tough time—their pet is all some people have.”
Dr Jason Rapke, a local veterinarian, has teamed up with the Salvos to help people in need look after their pets. He has started a charity called Best Mates and once a month Dr Jason and his staff hold free vet clinics at the St Kilda Crisis Centre where Michelle works. Around 30 animals are seen at each clinic. “Most are cats and dogs, although there is the occasional rabbit, ferret and snake,” Dr Jason says. “We do a lot of vaccinations, flea and worming treatments as well as treating pets with concerns such as arthritis, lumps and dental issues.” They also help people by providing pet food. Michelle says they welcome donations of cat and dog food at the centre. “As soon as we get it, it goes out the door,” she says. “We often hear stories about people going without food themselves so they can feed their pets or pay for vet bills.” Michelle and Dr Jason say it is very rewarding to be able to help animals in this way, knowing that it helps their owners, too. “All of the people we see are having a tough time,” Dr Jason says. “Some of them don’t have any family, so their pets are very important to them—these animals are their family.” Michelle says everyone is very grateful for the care their beloved pets receive. “Dr Jason and his team are amazing; they provide such a wonderful service for people who are unable to afford care for their pets".
About Dr Jason
What is the best thing about being a vet?
There is a lot of variety about my work. I love that about it. Every day is different!
What pets did you have growing up?
Mostly large dogs—great Danes, mastiff crosses, but also cocker spaniels, cavalier King Charles and others. Lots of cats, too—mainly moggies. All of our animals were adopted or rescued and if you’re looking for a new pet, I’d encourage you to go down to the local shelter.