Dr. Kwane Stewart of Project Street Vet and our very own community give-back program, HolistaPet Helps, are proud to share with you the first of what will be many stories about helping deserving pets and pet parents in need. This is the story of how we helped give pet parent Richard C. Bastardo Jr. and his beloved dog, Princess Leia, a new leash on life — and how you helped us get there!
One Happy Family: Meet Richard, Princess Leia & B. Pudding
Dr. Kwane, also known as The Street Vet, first met Richard on an overcast August morning in Ocean Beach, a sleepy seaside neighborhood in San Diego, California. Richard, an unhoused Gulf War veteran, was living in a barely functioning sedan with his two dogs, B. Pudding, a pug dealing with age-related health issues, and Princess Leia, a pit bull with severe anxiety issues. To make ends meet, Richard sells handmade paracord self-defense keychains to tourists and strangers. His income from this was meager at best.
No stranger to adversity, Richard never allowed his hardships to extend to his beloved pups. Nor did he sacrifice them for his personal benefit. Nothing exemplified this more than when Richard’s brother gave him the opportunity to live with him, albeit under one condition: he would have to give up his dogs. Unwilling to part ways with his pups, Richard declined his brother’s invitation and chose to put his dogs first.
More than just pets, B. Pudding and Princess Leia are like children to Richard. There isn’t anything that the selfless veteran won’t do for them, even at the expense of his comfort.
“I don’t trust anybody to take care of them,” explained a tearful Richard to Dr. Kwane. “I’ve gone a couple days without eating, but they don't. If you take the responsibility of being a pet owner, they got to come first. You got kids, they come first, right? Same thing.”
After giving his dogs a quick checkup, Dr. Kwane felt Richard and his pups deserved more than what their current situation offered. As the cloudy Ocean Beach skies started to part, the Street Vet left with one thing in mind: giving Richard and his dogs the stability they were looking for. But Dr. Kwane knew he couldn’t do it alone. That’s when HolistaPet partnered up with the good doctor to give Richard, B. Pudding, and Princess Leia the means to a better life.
Making Richard’s Dream Come True
Following their meeting, Dr. Kwane used his resources to help spread the word about Richard and his dogs. Dr. Kwane shared Richard’s story with more than 125,000 followers on the official The Street Vet Instagram account. The post went viral and garnered over 25,000 likes and almost 1,000 comments. An unprecedented outpouring of support from fellow pet parents empathized with Richard’s love for his precious pets and wanted to help in any way possible.
Since their encounter, Dr. Kwane has provided Richard with the resources to get back on his feet and his dogs the proper veterinary care and treatment they deserve. From scheduling spaying, microchipping, and providing pet supplies for Princess Leia and B. Pudding to connecting Richard with various housing organizations, Dr. Kwane’s mission hit a turning point when we at HolistaPet decided to lend a helping hand and take this noble cause to the next level.
HolistaPet Helps & The Street Vet: Helping Pets One Paw at a Time
In October 2022, HolistaPet celebrated five amazing years of success with the launch of a brand new community give-back program called HolistaPet Helps. We’ve always taken pride in understanding and caring for the needs of pets everywhere, so this initiative was a natural fit for us and a love letter to our furry friends who help make our lives whole.
Our goal is to provide support and care for all pets, especially those who need it most. Whether it’s finding forever homes for rescues, sponsoring life-saving medical care for pets, or providing resources for low-income pet parents, we’ll be there every step of the way to help make these dreams a reality.
Impressed by our ethos and history of providing high-quality, holistic pet wellness products, Dr. Kwane established an exclusive partnership with HolistaPet to take his selfless efforts to the next level. Together, this partnership will ensure that no pet is left behind. The efforts to provide Richard and his dogs with life-changing assistance quickly accelerated thanks to this new partnership, culminating in a day that Richard will never forget.
Tragedy Strikes Our Beloved Family
On December 5, 2022, a little over three months after Richard’s story went viral, Dr. Kwane and representatives of HolistaPet Helps met up with Richard at a park near Liberty Station in San Diego. Richard revealed that he’d experienced a recent tragedy — B. Pudding, his beloved pug, had passed away after 14 long years of being by his side. To make matters worse, Richard's car had broken down recently and was barely functioning.
Unwilling to accept a home that wouldn't include his pets, Richard and his dogs would spend their nights sleeping in his broken-down sedan. With no heat to keep him and Princess Leia warm, they bundled together, trying to get through each chilly winter night. Fortunately, they don’t have to do that anymore.
Gifting Richard and Princess Leia a New Car!
Dr. Kwane and HolistaPet Helps gifted the veteran and Princess Leia a new car! Richard was given the keys to a 2016 Toyota Sienna so he and Princess Leia can stay warm during the cold winter nights. The minivan is large enough for him and Princess Leia to lounge in while they wait for permanent housing. Inside the trunk was a dog bed, dog food, and plenty of HolistaPet Wellness Treats to help Princess Leia manage her anxiety issues.
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Shocked and in sheer disbelief, Richard couldn’t contain his emotions. “I’m just in shock that someone would do that for a total stranger and not expect anything in return.” Those tears he shed were not of sadness but of joy that someone cared enough about him and his dog to help make their lives better.
Richard epitomizes what it means to be a loving pet parent. He sacrificed a lot to make sure his dogs didn’t go without the care and comfort they deserved. This is what HolistaPet Helps is all about! And with Dr. Kwane working alongside us, Richard and Princess Leia will be the first of many deserving recipients of our charitable efforts.
Join the Cause: Help Richard & Princess Leia Get a New Home!
At the time of the gifting, Richard was working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to find permanent housing. But ever since HolistaPet Helps and Dr. Kwane told his story, new opportunities have started to present themselves to the veteran. Richard was recently given a job as a security guard! And Princess Leia is even allowed to ride with him on his daily patrols.
Dr. Kwane and HolistaPet Helps also set up a GoFundMe effort to give Richard permanent housing. You can help give Richard and Princess Leia a space to live in by contributing directly to the GoFundMe page. Richard also has an Instagram page devoted to his handmade paracord keychains, which you can view and order directly from.
None of this could be possible without your support of HolistaPet! Through your patronage, we can partner with great charitable organizations like Dr. Kwane’s Project Street Vet and bring to light stories like Richard’s to help make the world a little better for pets and their loving owners.
The more you shop at HolistaPet, the more we’re able to give back to the community and continue with efforts like the one you just read about. Stay in the know about all the HolistaPet happenings by subscribing to our newsletter and following our social media channels. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of pets everywhere and help give them the life-changing care and support they deserve.