“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” Many of us are familiar with this line by William Shakespeare from his play Romeo and Juliet where “The Bard of Avon” conveys the message that a name doesn’t matter. However, we live in a world where a name provides identity, recognition and even long-term remembrance. Would a rose by another name smell just as sweet? Maybe so. However, with apologies to Shakespeare, we beg to differ that a name does matter.

It seems our name, Changing the Streets, just does not seem to convey what we actually do. So how did we end up with our name in the first place. Well, it all began in 2017 when I was in Guatemala with my friends to help Colitas Felices with one of their Spay Day events. Before we headed home, we went to beautiful Lake Atilan for a few days of fun.

And that is where it all began…

During prior trips to Guatemala, I had volunteered to provide care at health clinics. At one particular clinic in a village, I saw many stray dogs wandering around who also lived in the village. We were treating each person with an anti-parasitic drug yet the dogs were not receiving care of any sort. Given the high number of dogs, I realized that by not treating them we were only addressing one part of the problem affecting the health of the people. Working together to care for the dogs also would benefit both people and pets (street dogs in this case) and that would ultimately help the environment of the village.

I learned about this approach of treating people and pets together while in school at UC Davis. It falls under the One Health concept. One is defined by the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention as, “One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach — working at the local, regional, national, and global levels — with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.”

Recognizing that we are all connected to our environment and animals and that our own personal health is affected by the health of all of us made immediate sense to me. But how do we translate the One Health concept to the clinic? I received firsthand knowledge of that by participating in one of the “student-run” clinics, Knights Landing, CA. They partnered with the University of California at Davis Veterinary School to offer a monthly One Health clinic. That is when it occurred to me that people will often help their pets before helping themselves because many people showed up to get their pets cared for.

Back to Lake Atilan and our name…

One morning over coffee while enjoying the lake, my friends and I got to talking about starting an organization that focuses on Clinical One Health. We had fun Googling names, but every name we thought of was taken. Thinking of street dogs, we thought of “Changing the Streets.” And, the name was available! So, we went with it. After a year, we added “Healthcare for Both Ends of the Leash” as an attempt to describe what we do.

We incorporated on January 18, 2018. At the time I had no idea that I would move from Sacramento, California to Macon, Georgia or that the entire world would go through a pandemic. Over the past four years we have had many changes to our organization just like so many of us have had in general.

I didn’t know what to expect when I found out I was moving to Macon. To be honest, I had never heard of the place. Located in the heart of Georgia, I didn’t realize it is the home of Southern Rock and Mercer University. Macon is the birthplace of Little Richard. Great music such as the Allman Brothers, REM, Otis Redding, Robert McDuffie (for you classical lovers), happens in this town! But I digress…back to Clinical One Health…

I was pleasantly surprised to find Macon charming. I also have to mention that I have made many new and close friends. Macon has soul. You can feel it when walking around. Because of this, we have been able to grow our organization to hold monthly pop up One Health Clinics in the neighborhoods where they are needed most.

We are excited to work with medical and public health students from Mercer University, Veterinary Technician students from Fort Valley University and Nurse Practitioner students from Middle Georgia State University. We want the next generation of healthcare providers to know and understand the importance of the human animal bond, how to work together and learn in a fun and compassionate environment.

As with all of us who lived through 2020, change was inevitable.

Besides, the only constant is change. The changes we as an organization have gone through have given us the opportunity to create a solid foundation and now we are truly beginning to take off!

Since we are restarting our efforts this fall, we thought it would be a good idea to change our name to what is important to us…people & pets. We added project because according to its definition as an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim, that is exactly what we are doing.

Even though our name is new, our mission is not.

Our commitment and passion to help communities in need achieve good health for pets and their owners is stronger than ever. We are excited to embark on new programs to expand our reach to help more people and pets. We are also grateful to have the support of so many and look forward to this new chapter of helping people and their pets where it is needed most. People & Pets Project. We hope you like our new name as much as we do!

“Healthcare for Both Ends of the Leash” will be in Guatemala from June 24-28!  We are taking the months of July and August off and will return to holding our clinics in Middle Georgia in September. Have a great summer!