Barking up the right tree

August 6, 2013 by  
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This week is Homeless Persons Week  and veterinarian Dr Sam Kovac will be using it to launch Project HoPe, an exciting new initiative that aims to help the disadvantaged pets of the homeless. 

Dr Sam Novak addresses the opening

Dr Sam Kovak addresses the opening

Dr Kovac in collaboration with the Jewish House will be providing free vaccinations to Sydney’s homeless pets. Project HoPe was launched yesterday on the steps of Town Hall in Sydney’s CBD.

“I think many homeless people in Australia own pets because they make great, non-judgmental companions,” says Dr Kovac, founder of Southern Cross Veterinary clinic in Sydney suburb St Peters.

“Naturally, it is heartbreaking when the owner is unable to afford the medical treatment to save their pet.  Not only does the animal suffer but I think it leaves the owners with a sense of letting their pet down, despite years of a strong bond together.”

Project HoPe aims to vaccinate as many homeless pets as possible from common yet deadly diseases this winter. Often these diseases can be prevented with a vaccine that costs less than $50.

“All of the diseases we will be vaccinating against are preventable,” explains Dr Kovac.

Project HoPe aims to vaccinate as many of these pets this winter for parvovirus, parainfluenza virus, distemper virus and adenovirus as well as the bacterial pathogen bordatella.

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Dr Kovak shows Clover Moore the vaccines he plans to give to homeless pets. Rabbi Kastel looks on.

“The aim is simple,” explains Dr Kovac, “We would like to prevent these animals from becoming sick in the first place and avoid unnecessary angst and pain for both owner and animal.”

“I will be running the Project HoPe with help from Jewish House. I will be administering the vaccinations myself. It is just a small way that I can give back using my time, qualifications and skills”.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO at Jewish House understands that for those on the street it can be very challenging to provide their pet with even basic needs such as food and shelter. “It is important to show the homeless of Sydney that the community is there to support them”.

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Rabbi Mendel Kastel, Bruce Notley-Smith and Gabrielle Upton farewell Dr Kovack as he leaves to helps the pets of the homeless. All pix Henry Benjamin

As a front line worker at Jewish House, I have seen first hand how the companionship from a pet can provide comfort and relief to the homeless owner. Project HoPe is a really positive initiative that offers hope and support to those living on the streets”.

Dr Kovac has set up the Southern Cross Compassionate Fund to ensure the financially disadvantaged do not have to bargain over the life of their companion.

All proceeds donated to the fund will go directly to helping the homeless and their pets.

Attending yesterday’s launch were Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and State Parliamentarians Gabrielle Upton, Bruce Notley-Smith and Walt Secord.


For more information on Project HoPe or to contribute to the Southern Cross Compassionate Fund, please visit


One Response to “Barking up the right tree”
  1. Amy says:

    This article makes people believe Sam Kovac is the first vet to set up a service helping Sydney’s homeless people & their pets…. He’s NOT!!!
    Take a look at Pets In The Park, they’ve been running for about a year as an organisation, & the vet who started it all, Dr Mark Westman, has been doing it since July 2009!!! Visit their website & you’ll see what work they’ve done & continue to do!! (Without the backing of a Jewish company by the way!)

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