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North County Veterinarian speaks on being named 2023 CNN Hero Of The Year

Dr. Kwane Stewart started Project Street Vet in 2020.
Posted at 11:33 PM, Dec 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-16 02:33:44-05

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — A North County veterinarian was named 2023 CNN's Hero Of The Year. To say Kwane Stewart is an animal guy is like saying dogs are man’s best friend.

“My love for animals started when I was young, five, six. I have- my earliest memories being around dogs and loving being around dogs,” Stewart said.

His love for animals goes beyond his family’s dogs Bentley, Kora and Max. Stewart’s been a practicing vet in California for more than two decades.

But his biggest work comes outside the clinic with Project Street Vet, which started in 2020.

“The mission is pretty simple. I will pack a bag full of medical supplies and I will just walk the streets. I walk and walk and search and search. And I will find unhoused individuals - people experiencing homelessness - with pets, and I give free veterinary care,” Stewart said.

Stewart told ABC 10News Project Street Vets helped over a thousand pets this year. As he, his team and other volunteers have provided that care, it has caught the attention of particular eyes over the years, leading to a big honor, with Stewart being named 2023’s CNN Hero of the Year.

“I am still in the pinch me, trying to get used to it phase. I mean we’re only five days out, and I’m just now starting to sort of allow myself to feel it. It’s special. You know, obviously I never expected it to rise to this level,” Stewart said.

After being chosen out of the 10 finalists, Stewart said the award did come with a prize of $100,000.

“Honestly, I was rooting for all of them. When I was up there and the podium and I had just won the 100K, I thought, ‘You know what? I think I’m going to share. I think we all deserve it,' and they’re all doing special things in their own way,” Stewart said.

Looking down the road, Stewart hopes to bring Project Street Vet to their care to other communities.

“I want to keep pushing into other big cities. If I could cover 12 to 15 of the largest in our country, I would then canvas a good 70 to 75 percent of our homeless population,” Stewart said.

Stewart’s hero award has a quote he often says engraved on the side. It’s a selfless saying of how he wants to help others. He plans to uphold every time he helps those wherever he meets them.

“If I can help keep a pet and a person together here or there, maybe motivate or inspire someone to do the same, then I’ve done my part,” Stewart said.

For more information on the Project Street Vet and the work Stewart and his team do, click here to learn more and to donate. Project Street Vet also has a GoFundMe for another donation avenue, which can be found here.