Add The Street Vet’s New Book to Your Summer Reading List · The Wildest

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Add The Street Vet’s New Book to Your Summer Reading List

What It Takes to Save a Life: A Veterinarian’s Quest for Healing and Hope will help you see pet parenthood with new eyes.

by Sio Hornbuckle
May 15, 2023
Dr. Kwane Stewart and a large black dog.
Courtesy of @drkwane

If you keep up with animal-rescue news, street outreach efforts, or just the many tear-jerking, feel-good pet stories popping up on your Instagram explore page, you’ve probably heard of Dr. Kwane, aka “The Street Vet.” The San Diego-based veterinarian has been treating the beloved pets of unhoused people for a decade. “At the time, it saved me,” Dr. Kwane told The Wildest in 2022. “I was isolating myself and cutting people off in my life. My mom would call, for example, and I wouldn’t return her call for days. I was slowly pulling away, and this brought me back.” And he was far from the only one saved: Since beginning Project Street Vet, Dr. Kwane has treated thousands of pets across the country — and, in the process, enabled thousands of humans to maintain relationships with precious animals who they may not have otherwise been able to save. 

Dr. Kwane’s new book, What it Takes to Save a Life: A Veterinarians Quest for Healing and Hope, speaks to the many ways Project Street Vet has inspired change in the lives of unhoused pet parents, sick animals, and Dr. Kwane himself. In it, he shares his own story of becoming a veterinarian and, after a mental health crisis, switching his focus to street outreach full-time. And in classic street vet fashion, he doesn’t keep the spotlight on himself for long: He also tells the stories of many of the people and pets in need he has met on his journey. 

In a recent Instagram caption, Dr. Kwane shared one of the many heartwarming stories included in What it Takes to Save a Life. He introduced his followers to Richard Lyons, a 72-year-old man he describes as “one of the greatest animal lovers I have ever encountered.” Lyons lives in a trailer park with his wife and six animals. He has PTSD and says of his dogs: “‘Have you ever had a crappy day, and then your dog crawls up into your lap and settles down and says ‘It’s you and me, Pappa; to hell with the rest of the world?’” Thanks to Dr. Kwane’s intervention — and the generosity of contributors to Dr. Kwane’s ongoing GoFundMe — Lyons’s dog, Courtney, was able to have 100 bladder stones removed at no cost to Lyons. 

But What it Takes to Save a Life doesn’t only serve as feel-good reading; it also speaks to the realities of veterinary compassion fatigue, the mistreatment and misperceptions of unhoused populations, and Dr. Kwane’s own tumultuous journey to finding his life’s mission. Dr. Kwane writes candidly about his mental health and financial struggles, inviting readers to wrestle with the difficult, necessary questions that he has confronted throughout his career of helping the “unseen.” 

What it Takes to Save a Life is available for pre-order, with an official release date of May 16. Until pre-sale ends, you can pre-order the book on Kindle for half price. And, of course, you can contribute to Dr. Kwane’s heroic efforts via his GoFundMe.

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

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