Seattle Veterinary Outreach helps pets on the streets — and their owners, too | KNKX

Seattle Veterinary Outreach helps pets on the streets — and their owners, too

Jun 11, 2019

Things are moving fast for Dr. Hanna Ekström.

Only five months after getting her nonprofit license, Ekström has treated more than a hundred pets from the back of her mobile veterinarian unit — all while running her own private practice. She started Seattle Veterinary Outreach in December to treat pets of the homeless in her spare time.

Ekström and her assistants use the opportunity during clinics to interact with people who “frequently feel isolated from the society at large,” she says. And their approach has helped — her team has connected homeless and underserved individuals to services for themselves, too.

Dr. Hanna Ekström prepares to do a complete blood count for Ripper, a dog, using a donated CBC machine. Ekström relies on donated medical equipment and supplies in order to provide her services for free.
Credit Shauna Sowersby / KNKX

SVO relies on donated items such as medicines, food and syringes to treat their patients. Recently, the Seattle Foundation Youth Grantmaking Board chose to donate some of its grant money to Ekström’s organization, which was a tremendous help to the cause.  

Ekström also has reached out to others in the community to help expand her outreach into even more committed work. In particular, a four-week program to help unsheltered people train their pets to behave well in public.

“In the process of training your pet in a positive way, you’re teaching people behavioral skills that will radiate out into their normal interactions with other human beings,” Ekström said.

With the help of her assistants Rachele Valadez, Erin Tabor and Nevin Kalaf, Ekström set up shop at the Recovery Cafe on May 24. In this story, Ekström talks about helping underserved people through their pets.

Dr. Hanna Ekström holds Mr. Kitty during his examination. Mr. Kitty’s former owners had him declawed, which poses health risks in cats.
Credit Shauna Sowersby / KNKX

Dr. Hanna Ekström and Rachele Valadez prepare for their next patient, Maggie.
Credit Shauna Sowersby / KNKX

Dr. Hanna Ekström listens to Dexter’s heartbeat. Brian Carroll, owner of Dexter and Mister, said his two dogs kept him moving after he lost his leg.
Credit Shauna Sowersby / KNKX

Dr. Hanna Ekström takes a moment between patients to finish some notes.
Credit Shauna Sowersby / KNKX


Contributions to Seattle Veterinary Outreach can be made through the organization's website,

This story was updated at 12:50 p.m. June 12, 2019, to correct the spelling of Dr. Hanna Ekström's name.