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Homeless With Pets – Choosing Pets Over Shelter

Choosing Pets Over Shelter

We Are Taking Action to Help Pets of the Homeless, by Supplying Pet Food and Veterinarian Care


Feeding Pets of the Homeless
is a nonprofit volunteer organization that provides pet food and veterinarian care to the homeless and less fortunate in local communities across the United States and Canada.  How? Our volunteers collection sites receive donated pet food and deliver it to food banks and/or soups kitchens which have agreed to distribute the food to the homeless and impoverished.
Our headquarters are in Carson City, Nevada and it is from here that we coordinate and support our volunteer collection sites.
We collect cash donations, we purchase pet food, distribute grant applications to veterinarians, and other nonprofit organizations that meet our objectives, we review and award grants, and we provide marketing materials and promote the organization on behalf of our collection sites to the national media.  

Become a collection site or sponsor one today. 

Mission Statement:

Through Feeding Pets of the Homeless, we will do our part to help reduce hunger in pets that belong to the homeless and the less fortunate and provide medical care for those pets in communities across the country.

We believe in the healing power of companion pets and of the human/animal bond which is very important to life.

Our actions include the following:

  1. Promote to veterinarians and pet related businesses the importance of joining the program
  2. Speak out on the issue of pets of homeless and the disadvantaged
  3. Campaign to food distributing organizations the importance of distributing pet food to the less fortunate
  4. Provide grants to licensed veterinarians and other nonprofit organizations that meet our objectives to administer medical care to pets of the homeless.

To view our Annual Report click here.

“The response from the public has been phenomenal.”

– Genevieve Frederick, Executive Director and Founder (click name to email)

————

How do you choose between shelter and a best friend? This is the impossible decision pet-lovers face when losing their homes. Since most shelters don’t allow animals, homeless people with pets often elect to stay on the streets rather than part with their four-legged companion… a decision that can be dangerous when the elements become harsh.

Indeed, pets can be a key reason that homeless people choose living on the streets over shelters. The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that between five and ten percentof homeless people have an animal companion (although this has never been formally surveyed). Yet, only two (yes, just 2!) pet-friendly homeless shelters exist in the United States (in Florida and California).

The benefits of having a pet are significant, particularly for homeless people. Pets are non-judgmental and loyal, almost to a fault. They may serve as additional security and protection on the dangerous streets. And studies show that they contribute to the healing process for people with mental or physical illness. According to one expert:

In this very busy twentieth century, man is a lonely creature. There are too many alienated individuals who lack human companionship. They lack purpose and productivity. A simple addition to these lonely lives can sometimes accomplish major changes. The possession of a pet, who eagerly awaits one and responds to one’s care and attention, may mean the difference between maintaining contact with reality or almost total withdrawal into fantasy. Literally, a pet can occasionally represent the difference between life and death.

One organization, Feeding Pets of the Homeless, takes a different approach to this issue. Their take? “Pets of the homeless and disadvantaged do not choose their owners.” To ensure that pets of the homeless receive care and nourishment, they have established a coalition of food banks and veterinarians specifically for pets of the homeless. (Find out if your community is connected.)

Certainly, it’s important to ensure that the pets of homeless people receive adequate care. However, it is even more crucial to recognize that four-legged companions are a key part of a homeless person’s life, but may also create an impermeable barrier for the delivery of life-saving services to homeless people.

Sadly, it is unlikely that more pet-friendly shelters will materialize in the near future, given that many organizations are already struggling to meet the needs of homeless humans (although,Vancouver, BC is the proud new owner of such a shelter).

[Picture: Homeless man with dog from Feeding Pets of the Homeless.]

Shelter Sued for Banning Service Dogs

BY SHANNON MORIARTY

PUBLISHED JULY 20, 2009 @ 06:02AM PT

Viper is in frail health. She suffers from seizures, gets around in a wheelchair, and uses a catheter. Given her vulnerable condition, Viper is fortunate to have a service dog trained to help her detect and cope with seizures.

Yet, Viper lives on the streets. Simply because her service dog has been turned away from area shelters.

Since most shelters do not allow animals, homeless people with a four-legged friend often choose to live stay on the streets rather than part with their pet. But should homeless individuals with a life-threatening medical condition that requires the help of a service animal be forced to make this same decision?

The Housing Rights Center and the Disability Rights Legal Center certainly doesn’t think so. Last week the organization filed a lawsuit against several Los Angeles homeless shelters alleging that the Americans With Disabilities Act and fair housing laws do not allow discrimination against people just because they rely on service animals.

The service providers interviewed for the LA Times article said it can be difficult to accommodate animals – service or otherwise – in a shelter setting. According to the article, others may be “sleeping nearby who may be allergic or afraid of dogs.”

It would be easy to chastise the shelter in this situation for their apparent lack of concern for medically vulnerable individuals. But keep in mind that shelters are often understaffed and filled to the brims. In a place like LA, shelters beds are in such high demand that turning away a person in need of help is usually not a choice. In addition, as any shelter worker will tell you, managing an emergency shelter is akin to controlling imminent chaos.

While this perspective does not excuse a shelter from turning away a guest with a service animal, it provides a better understanding of the strains shelters face to meet the needs of a growing homeless population.

But just as Viper should not be sleeping on the streets, a homeless shelter is not an appropriate place for her either. Someone as medically vulnerable as Viper should be bypass shelter and go directly into permanent housing with a case manager. This is the only long-term arrangement that will ensure her medical needs are appropriately cared for.

As we move towards a prevention/rapid-rehousing model for providing homeless services, I hope this conversation about service animals in shelters becomes obsolete.

Does the woman in this LA Times photo look familiar? It’s Viper, one of the stories captured by Mark Horvath during his Road Trip, U.S.A. tour. Watch her story here.

The “ex”-Middle & Upper Class Homeless

Posted:  Just One More Pet

Related Resources:

September 20, 2009 - Posted by | animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Owner's Rights, Pets, Political Change, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , ,

31 Comments »

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  17. In Vancouver, British Columbia I believe there are several “pet friendly” human shelters called “Lookout shelters” and in Toronto, Ontario there is one “pet friendly” human shelter; it’s called Fred Victor United Bethlehem.

    Can someone please start a website that has American and Canadian human shelters that allow the family to stay intact – humans with their pets living together in one room.

    Also, would everyone reading this please
    1. find out now where their closet human shelter is
    2. PUT THE INFORMATION ON THE DOOR OF THEIR REFRIGERATOR (so you will know that you have a work in progress and if you or someone has a need you can provide the information immediately)
    3. Contact that shelter to find out what type of shelter it is ie: for ramilies only, for men only, for women only, for teens only, for people with special needs or issues
    4. ASK ARE THEY PET FRIENDLY – Can you bring ALL of your pets with you if you need shelter because of a fire, flood, fleeing abuse or some other reason
    5. If it does not meet your needs ask the shelter folk where the closest on is to you that will meet your needs and
    6. Put that information on the door of your refrigerator
    7. Contact the shelter to confirm it really does meet your needs
    8. If your village, town or city human shelter is not “pet friendly” gather your friends, neighbors etc. to request that the human shelter change it’s policy to “pets welcome” (humans and their pets sleeping together in one room) or gather all your friends, neighbors etc. to start a “pet friendly” pets welcome human shelter (for humans and their pets) in your own community so if a need arises you and your entire family pets and humans have a place to stay together as a family
    9. Please do not be surprised if your village, town or city does not have a “pet friendly” human shelter ;you may have to travel to keep your family together, humans and pets but if you do your research now you or someone else will be able to know where.
    10. Please also ask everyone you know to do the same as above so that they know what their situation is should a fire, flood happen or need to flee abuse arise etc.and get them to put the information on the door of their refrigerator too so that if anyone comes to their home for coffee in the kitchen or to do work on their home or just visit, that person can be the next one to be involved in finding out where their closest human shelter is that will keep the family intact, staying together in one room, humans with their pets.

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