At the Optimist Daily, we love to spotlight people who go the extra mile to help out their communities. With that in mind, we bring you the story of Kwane Stewart, a veterinarian who walks around the streets of California treating animals owned by homeless people—for free.
When Stewart first decided to become a veterinarian, he had no idea his job would become less about the animals he treats and more about the humans who own them. The 49-year-old animal lover spends his free time driving around California and spotting homeless people with animals. But his goal isn’t to take away their pets — it’s to treat them, for no cost at all.
Stewart was the county veterinarian for Stanislaus County in Modesto, California, when the Great Recession hit the US in 2007. That’s when Stewart realized he needed to do a lot more for the animals who had suddenly been tossed to the sidelines of a financial crisis.”That was the moment for me career-wise that was enlightening. Up until then, I’d been practicing high-end medicine for clients who could pay for everything. But suddenly I was thrown into this economic war and people couldn’t even afford to help their pets.”
For animals who need vaccinations, medicine, or food, Stewart pays for the costs out of pocket. However, he often runs into animals with severe issues such as tooth decay or illnesses that need treatment at a veterinary hospital. For these cases, Stewart uses his GoFundMe to cover surgeries and invasive procedures which can cost pet owners thousands of dollars.
So far, he has treated about 400 animals in the nine years he has worked as a street vet. Stewart documents many of his stories through his TV series, “Dr. Kwane: The Street Vet,” which airs internationally in over 30 countries. When he isn’t on the street walking around and looking for animals he can treat, Stewart works for Netflix as a movie set animal expert to ensure the safety of animals on movie and commercial sets.