SoliVet

Creating the conditions for dialogue between precarious animal owners and social housing structures

Photo of Théo Noguer
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible
  • Yes, I’m 18 years old or older

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

NOGUER Théo

Initiative's representative date of birth

3081994

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • France

Headquarters location: city

Lyon

Where are you making a difference?

Lyon and Grenoble, FRANCE, initially. The objective is to start the project in 4 to 5 major French cities within a year

Website or social media url(s)

https://www.linkedin.com/company/solivet/

Focus Areas

  • Promote inclusivity
  • Re-imagining the role of pets in society

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €50k - €100k

Organisation Type

  • government: an organisation that is part of or associated with the formal governing body of a community
  • hybrid: a combination of different types of organisations, such as a social enterprise (an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being)
  • youth-led initiative: organisations, whether informal or formal, created and led primary by young people

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

It was a thursday afternoon in Lyon, in a shelter called Pause Diabolo and that was when I first met her : Lea. At first, years ago, Lea was like you and I : she had a family, a degree in personal care, and somewhat of a normal life. One day she violently argued with her family and ended up alone in the streets.Through chance encounters, she adopted her cat Bounty and then her dog Nala. But of course, Nala and Bounty needed veterinary care, which she could not afford. For Léa, there is no homeless shelter. In fact, Léa is a woman with a dog and a cat which reduces drastically her chance to find a place to zero. For Léa, her dog and her cat are her safety net but adversely, they are an anchor that holds her back in the eyes of the society

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Lea is part of the 5000 homeless living with one or several pets. And for the Lyon homeless people owning animals, the efforts made are quite insufficient : there are thirty hosting structures and only 3 of them accept pets, making up a total of 20 hosting places. And in the streets, a dog is more than ever man’s true friend : it’s a source of warmth, comfort, serenity and social bond.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

As a veterinarian and having worked for 5 years with homeless people, I think that animals should become the vector for the social reintegration of owners in precarious situations. This is why today I am creating SoliVet, a professional cooperative network which creates the conditions for dialogue between these owners and the social structures providing housing support. For this, SoliVet offers a global and personalized support solution for each social structure around several axes which can be more or less developed as needed: • The training of social staff to know the dog's behavior and how to respond to common situations involving the animal (priority action) • Sanitary and veterinary monitoring of the received animals in order to guarantee the tranquility of the structure (priority action) • Behavioral education of animals during their return and maintenance in housing • Organization of the structure to reduce incivility and to promote better living together between dog owners and non-owners • Open and collective moments around animal mediation practices, so that the dog becomes a mediator of social work and allows to recreate the bond on its territory.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

This kind of approach does not exist in France. It is the result of an experiment conducted for 5 years as a non profit organization in Lyon. This prototype highlighted several points : - Importance of the animal for these people - Lack of solutions to care for these animals - Importance of a global approach for the structures Therefore, the objective of this social enterprise is to provide this global and multidisciplinary response, by making veterinarians, dog trainers, social workers, government and NGO act in cooperation. This allows us to rethink the management of the human / animal duo in the homeless shelter. In the end, we could change the place of the dog in society from a burden to a vector of social rehabilitation

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

Thanks to the training that we provide, the social workers develop new skills in dog care, in their health and their behaviour. Thus, the owners feel that their pet is welcomed in the structure, and it creates an environment where they see social workers as reliable people. Therefore, the pet becomes a mediator of the social work. It enables to initiate the dialogue and to talk about things that can be sometimes hard to deal with directly. I remember a Polish man who arrived in Lyon in the spring of 2019. He lived with a 3-month-old puppy. One day this puppy fell from a wall and broke his two elbows. Veterinary care and surgery were performed, and the puppy was kept convalescent with volunteers. During this time, the owner who cared for his puppy got involved in making donation boxes and he went to distribute them to merchants in his neighborhood. This allowed him to quickly become familiar with his neighborhood and learn the basics of French language in less than a month. Social workers estimate that this veterinary care has saved almost a year of social work with this man. This is a good example of how we can help the man to reintegrate by helping the animal.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

This project has many expected impacts. It can help: - Homeless people and dog owners in precarious situations : they can have their animals cared for, and they can access accommodation with their companions. - Homeless shelters and social landlords: thanks to training and behavioral support, conflicts related to dogs will be reduced and relationships between dog owners and social workers will be more peaceful The impact indicators monitored as a priority will be: - An analysis of the interactions between dog owners during the project - Monitoring the number of conflicts related to dogs and the general feeling of social landlords and shelters - The number of structures supported, and the number of accommodation places available - The number of actors involved in the project - Finally, the well-being of dogs will be monitored thanks to the animal welfare chair of VetagroSup

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

The objective of this project is to be quickly present throughout the French territory. For this, we opted for a centralized duplication strategy. The originality of this project is to be a cooperative, so when developing on a new territory, the project actors will only have to add themselves to the cooperative network. This will allow strategic cooperation in each territory with the already present ecosystem. To set up in a new territory after the experiment, we will conclude agreements with the municipal team

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

The global approach of this project creates shared value for all stakeholders. This project allows the reintegration of precarious people with their animals which is the mission of the local authorities. The presence of these untracked animals in the streets creates a public health problem, which is solved by this project. Finally, this project allows animal owners to develop their emotional and social skills, which allows them to rebuild themselves. All these actions will lead to a change in the place of the dog in our society. The animal will no longer be considered as a burden, but as a vector of reintegration for all precarious people: homeless, precarious people, elderly, students, ...

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

This kind of award would quickly launch the social enterprise. IN THE SHORT TERM : The economic viability of this project will mainly depend on: - The sale of staff training to social landlords. - The sale of behavioral support for animals in social housing to social landlords (These services would also be billed at a solidarity price to homeless shelters) - Donations from individuals or companies, which could be tax exempt thanks to ESUS approval IN THE MEDIUM AND LONG TERM : - The financing by local authorities or by the regional health agency (ARS) of the veterinary care of animals of homeless people. Indeed, the presence of this non-medicalised canine population raises public health issues.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

ACTUALLY : Théo NOGUER : Social entrepreneur and veterinarian. I conducted a 5-year experimentation with a homeless public and I know Lyon's social environment very well. My favorite: project management IN PROGRESS : This project aims to create a cooperative with : - Veterinarian - Dog trainer - Animal protection association - An ethologist who has worked in several animal protection associations and with homeless people with dogs.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

This project is a real innovation in the French veterinary environment which is not usually focused on solidarity medicine. So if I win this prize, it will allow me to prove the legitimacy of this project. It will also allow this project to quickly develop and involve more veterinarians and dog trainers. The network will therefore be larger and will have a greater impact on social structures, which will allow the rehabilitation of more homeless people. Finally, this project will also have a greater impact on society's vision of the dog. Dogs will have a more important role, and all the public spaces will be able to become dog friendly.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Ashoka page or contact

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

EXEMPLE 1 : We are in the process of setting up a collaboration with the homeless shelter "La Péniche Accueil" in Lyon. It is a day shelter for homeless people. Once a month, a volunteer veterinarian will go there to hold free consultations. At the same time, we will train social workers at "La Péniche" so that they are no longer afraid of dogs and that they can include them in their daily work. All these actions could be funded by the A&P SOMMER foundation first, then by the local authorities. EXEMPLE 2 : We have started a collaboration with the social landlord Est Métropole Habitat. In their buildings, there are many cases of "ordinary" mistreatment because the owners do not know the needs of the dog. We are therefore going to set up a program to train caretakers to know the needs and the basics of dog training, and we will start dog training sessions every week in the building. Thus the well-being of the dog will be improved and it will cause less problem for the landlord.

14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?

This project will allow: - For animals belonging to homeless people, to be able to return to accommodation with their owner. They will therefore no longer be subject to rain, cold, ... - For the animals of people in social housing, their owners will be trained to know the ethological needs of the dog and therefore they will be able to ensure their well-being. In addition, the dog is a sociable animal, which has evolved alongside humans for millennia. The soul of this project is to allow the human / animal duo not to be separated during the return or the maintenance in housing which are important moments for the owner and for his animal.

15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

The other actors are the Student Veterinary Dispensary (which I managed for 5 years), the dispensaries of the SPA and the dispensaries of the Assistance Aux Animaux foundation. They provide veterinary care for the animals of homeless people. These structures guarantee access to veterinary care for animals of very precarious people, but none offer behavioral support for animals or real training for social structures. Consequently, even if there is a real need for veterinary care for the animals of very precarious people, these projects are not sufficient to induce a change in the shelters and make them more inclusive...

16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.

To create this change in the shelters, it is essential to offer a global response taking into account the different characteristics of hosting the human / animal duo. This global response will therefore come from the collaboration of different partners and stakeholders. The more partners that will be added to the project, the more the answer will be complete, and will take into account all that involves Human and animal, in a coherent way. - Veterinarians: who would provide care in shelters - Dog trainers: who will be responsible for behavioral monitoring of dogs when they enter accommodation - Abbé Pierre Foundation, French Red Cross, Social landlords (like Est Métropole Habitat): to distribute the service in a large part of their reception center and accommodation - Municipalities (city and metropolis of Lyon): which would finance interventions in shelters in order to guarantee that animals belonging to homeless people are not vectors of diseases.

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

During the 5 years of prototyping of this project, I created an association (the Student Veterinary Dispensary) and we win: - Winner of the call for departmental and regional initiatives of the Crédit Coopératif foundation (2018); - Winner of the Lyon Campus Initiatives prize (2018); - Winner of the La Riposte call for projects (2017); - 3rd place at the national Enactus competition (2019);

19. Financial Sustainability (OPTIONAL): Please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project, include an attached document with your detailed business plan or other equivalent information. (This information will NOT be shared with your fellow contestant, it will only be visible to you and internal Prize reviewers).

You can find attached a detailed financial document. The charges are divided between: Human resources (48%, high because it is a cooperative), Company charges (taxes, ...) (23%), Veterinary costs (21%), Costs to organize training ( 5%), Fees for behavioral support (1%), fees for building audits (1%) and other (1%). Revenues are divided between: veterinary monitoring (44%), training sold (23%), donations from businesses and individuals (22%), building audit sales (6%), behavioral monitoring (5 %)

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