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Charlie’s pet food bank

Charlie’s pet food bank provides free and low-cost pet services for people who are homeless, living outdoors, low-income and senior pet guardians in downtown Vancouver.

This community-based initiative was created to improve the lives of pets living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Launched in 2000 by the BC SPCA’s Chief Animal Health Officer at the time, Dr. Jamie Lawson, and the Vancouver Food Bank, Charlie’s is named after a starving dog that came into our animal hospital in critical condition. Sadly, we weren’t able to save Charlie, and he passed away after three weeks of intensive care.

Location

Mission Possible
543 Powell Street
Vancouver B.C.

Hours

Thursdays 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

How Charlie’s helps pets and people

The human-animal bond is powerful. Studies show that having a pet helps people’s mental and physical health. Pets give us constant, unconditional love. Many people tell us that their pets have saved their lives.

As part of the Downtown Eastside, we have become a resource for many pet guardians and community support workers. To help pet guardians we take a harm reduction approach by showing respect for the person and building relationships. Charlie’s is a volunteer-operated program and all pet food and supplies are donated. A group of dedicated BC SPCA volunteers allows us to help more animals and maintain a presence in the community. Thanks also to Mission Possible, which has hosted Charlie’s since 2000.

We strive to provide a supportive, respectful and friendly environment. We want Charlie’s to be a safe place for visitors, members, volunteers and animals.

Charlies pet food bank

Visit us on Thursdays to pick up pet supplies or register for a free spay/neuter (if you qualify).

Items distributed weekly

  • Pet food – dog, cat and small pet (dry and wet)
  • Cat and dog treats
  • Cat litter
  • Cat litter boxes
  • Toys – dog, cat and small pet
  • Collars, harnesses and leashes
  • Dog coats
  • Beds
  • Pet carriers

Services provided weekly

  • Cat and dog nail trims
  • Dog training tips
  • Information on basic pet care, behaviour and animal by-laws
  • Referral to animal hospital if needed
  • Registration for free cat/dog spay/neuter
  • Registration for Charlie’s free vet clinic (if you qualify)

Registering for Charlie’s pet food bank

Please register in person to pick up pet food or supplies (one family member per household). This helps us ensure pet food is available for everyone.

To register, we ask for:

  1. A piece of government-issued identification (i.e., driver’s license, passport, Care Card, etc.)
  2. Proof of address (utility bill, rental agreement, verification by building management or case worker)

If you’re not able to provide one of these documents, please speak with a volunteer.

You can register at Charlie’s pet food bank on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Once registered you can visit Charlie’s weekly to receive pet food, litter, and other supplies. Registered members may also request specific items. This registration is for the pet food bank; a separate registration is required for the free vet clinic.

Charlie’s free vet clinic

A volunteer-operated free vet clinic runs on the last Thursday of every month, thanks to veterinarians and registered vet technicians who donate their time.

Since we started offering free vet care, we have seen an improvement in the health and care of animals living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

What can I get at the free vet clinic

  • Check-up for your pet
  • Vaccines, dewormer and flea treatment
  • Minor treatments
  • Professional grooming services
  • Referral for spay/neuter surgery
  • Referral to animal hospital if needed

Dog at vet getting teeth checked

Registering for Charlie’s free vet clinic

Please register in person at Charlie’s in order to attend the free vet clinic.

To qualify for the free clinic you must:

  1. Be a resident of an SRO in the Downtown Eastside
  2. Homeless – living in Vancouver or in British Columbia
  3. Your pet must be spayed or neutered – dogs, cats and rabbits. We offer free or low-cost spay/neuter to people who qualify
  4. Register only one pet — occasionally we will register two pets in the same home. We currently register one pet per family so we can offer assistance to other people in need.

To register, we ask for:

  1. A piece of government-issued identification (i.e., driver’s license, passport, Care Card, etc.)
  2. Proof of address (utility bill, rental agreement, verification by building management or case worker)
  3. Proof of income – cheque stub or Notice of Assessment from Revenue Canada

Other ways to register

  1. Referral by support worker
  2. Referral from housing – homeless shelter or single room occupancy (SRO)

All registrations must occur in person at Charlie’s pet food bank. Visit any Thursday before the free clinic to register or arrange to have your pet spayed or neutered.

Charlie’s Fund – Free or low-cost surgeries for pets

We provide support for veterinary treatment and life-saving surgeries thanks to our donors. Through Charlie’s Fund we cover all or, on occasion, most of the cost for veterinary services for people who:

  • Live in supporting housing or a single room occupancy (SRO) residence
  • Are homeless and living in B.C.
  • Require follow-up treatment recommended by our volunteer veterinarians at Charlie’s free vet clinic
  • Have been recognized by one of our animal protection officers as someone who is experiencing hardship and requires financial assistance to provide medical care for your pet

I can’t afford to get my pet fixed

Visit Charlie’s to register for a free spay or neuter for your cat or dog. Your pet must be at least six months of age to get fixed. We’ll take your name and information and give it to our BC SPCA Vancouver hospital. The hospital will call you to book a spay or neuter appointment. If you can’t come down to Charlie’s, call our hospital to see if you qualify for a free or discounted spay/neuter and then book an appointment to get your pet fixed.

I want to donate to Charlie’s

Thank you for thinking of us and wanting to help. We are always in need of donations. Our biggest needs are:

  • Pet food – both dry and wet dog, cat, small pet (food not open or expired)
  • Cat litter
  • Hay for small pets
  • Cash donations

You can drop off donated goods at the BC SPCA Vancouver Branch.

Cash donations can be made at any BC SPCA Branch; just let staff know you would like your donation to go to Charlie’s pet food bank to help the BC SPCA support people in need with our free vet clinic and follow-up treatments or surgeries.

How do I volunteer for Charlie’s?

Charlie’s relies on volunteers for many things like picking up donations, distributing food, providing veterinary care and many other professional services.

If you’re interested in volunteering with us, please learn more about volunteering for the BC SPCA and check out our current opportunities at Charlie’s.

Rat being held and pet by girl

I need help with vet care

If you’re in need of financial assistance for your pet’s vet care, find out more about what the BC SPCA does to help people in need.

Thanks to our community partners

Mission Possible

Oppenheimer Park

BC SPCA Hospital

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