Founded Dogs on the Streets, a network of volunteers working with homeless dog owners to ensure the welfare of their animals.
For many homeless people, their pet dog is their closest companion, offering love, friendship and protection in a life that is difficult and lonely. Michelle started working with that community in 2012 after walking past a homeless man and his pet near her home in London.
She decided to give them a Christmas gift of food and essentials. After seeing the impact it had, she started to give up her free time to support other people in the same situation.
Then, in October 2016, she was asked to temporarily house a dog whose owner had been taken ill.
The experience inspired her to think of a way to bring together all the services she had been organising under one mobile roof. So, in March last year, she formed Dogs on the Streets (DOTS).
Michelle recruited volunteer vets, groomers and trainers, and they set up a makeshift tent at regular times and locations each week. Then in December, an anonymous donor gave them a custom-made mobile vet surgery to use.
DOTS now operates two weekly clinics in London. Homeless dog owners can take their pets for check-ups, vaccinations and treatments, along with grooming and training sessions to reduce dog-on-dog aggression. The charity also offers free leads, coats, beds, collars and food, and the mobile vet van allows the team to give emergency care 24 hours a day. Dogs supported by DOTS are given a tag with contact details so owners can call the team for help when they need it – even at 1am.
The scheme has expanded to other parts of the UK, including Dundee, Bournemouth, Milton Keynes and Oxford, and is set to grow further. Michelle has also been involved in successfully getting homeless people and their pets off the streets for good.
Michelle, 49, said: “I think DOTS takes a huge weight off their shoulders, which then enables them to focus on themselves a bit more, because their whole focus – even food – often goes to their dog first.”