Dogs, Cats and the Odd Ferret Treated at Our Vet Clinic

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By Sharon Lee


Sacred Heart Mission’s vet, Dr Mark Foley, mainly treats an even mix of dogs and cats. But on occasion there has been the odd bird, rat or ferret. On the first Tuesday of the month, he comes into Mission House at Grey St in St Kilda, to treat the much loved animals of our clients.

Dr Foley of Monash Vet approached us with the idea of running a vet clinic in 2012. He had been speaking with a friend who volunteers with us, and wondered whether his services could be of use. As it turned out, they have. At each clinic he sees an average of eight to 14 pets. It has been a pleasant surprise to find just how well the animals are looked after.

“My initial thoughts were that if they can’t afford vet care the animals may be in worse condition. But no, people look after them very well,” he says.

Indeed, Dr Foley has observed people go to great lengths to make sure their animals get the care they need.

“People tell me they have been saving up for a while for a flea treatment, or saved for months to have an operation done. I can see they’re going without things and saving up, and actually prioritising the needs of the animal above themselves,” he says.

Dr Foley says it shows just how vital pets are for people facing homelessness and disadvantage.

“I think sometimes the animals are their best friends. They almost rely on them a little bit for companionship. And I think it’s something they can look after as well. They’re caring for something as well as being looked after themselves,” he says.

“These animals are playing such an important part in these people’s lives, lives that have been very challenging for them. They’ve got their own issues that they’re trying to deal with, but these animals are something they cling to, and they seem to form a very important bond.”

Dr Foley knows the feeling. His pets “Millie” the Labrador and “Humphrey” the pug are much loved members of his family.

As we head towards Christmas our thoughts do of course turn to family and friends – sharing a festive meal, laughter and gifts. For many people who access our services, it can be a more difficult time of year, as they lack the opportunity to share in those joys of the festive season.

Our Christmas appeal theme this year is Give a Gift that Counts. A donation to the Christmas appeal is a fantastic way to demonstrate your generosity in a truly meaningful way.  Your support can help us to feed those who are hungry, deliver residential care to elderly people who have been homeless most of their lives, provide a safe place for women encountering domestic violence, and so much more. If you would like to Give a Gift that Counts please go to and click on Donate.

Thanks so much to St Kilda News and all of you St Kilda News readers for supporting Sacred Heart Mission throughout 2015. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


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