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Student vets help homeless in France

Students at a veterinary school have set up a scheme to offer free care and treatment to pets belonging to homeless people or those unable to pay.

The 90 or so students at the veterinary school of Lyon, VetAgro Sup, offer care, under the supervision of a professor, at homeless shelters in the city that allow animals once a week.

Most of the animals they take care of are dogs, sometimes cats and rats. They have vaccinated over 200 animals so far.

Students can participate from their first year. Co-president of the association, Dispensaire Vétérinaire Etudiant, and student in second year, Ana Alkan, 24, said: “The programme is part of our course, it is really good because it links the theoretical aspect with the practical. The students are getting more and more involved and they are not limiting themselves to the health care part, they want to do more.”

The initiative started in 2008 but was later stopped in 2013 before relaunching again in 2016.

Ms Alkan said: “We really try to take people in reinsertion to help them and we work with social workers to create a link.”

They also bring food and toys for the pets.

Ms Alkan added: “Pet owners are very happy. Having a pet is a big responsibility but it can help them. We had a person who got a puppy and stopped taking drugs thanks to his dog. He wanted to be able to look after it.”

The scheme also means that homeless or low-income people that come into the shelters to use the vet clinics are more likely to receive help and support from the shelter's own services, if necessary.

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