According to a 2015 study, more than 560,000 people in the U.S. are homeless on any given night. Almost 2/3 stay in residential programs, leaving 1/3 living without shelter. According to a 2013 study, five states account for more than half of the homeless population in the U.S.: California (22%), New York (13%), Florida (8%), Texas (5%) and Massachusetts (3%). Though homelessness has declined by 11% since 2007, it is still a highly disturbing statistic.
Pets of the Homeless tells us that five-to-ten percent of homeless people have dogs and/or cats, and choose keeping their pets over living in a “no pets allowed” shelter. In some areas of the country, the percentage of homeless with pets is as high as 24%.
It is a misconception that people who are homeless should not have a pet. In fact, many of the homeless keep pets because they are more vulnerable without one. Among other things, pets provide comfort, companionship and protection, assets which are highly valued when living on the street. However, when it comes to caring for these pets, there is definitely a shortfall in the medical care and food that a homeless pet-parent can provide.
Luckily, there are a handful of organizations, such as Downtown Dog Rescue, based in Los Angeles, who recognize the need to provide free services to these pet owners. With the help of many volunteers, DDR recently held their first Pet Resource Center mobile s/n clinic for pets of the homeless on L.A.’s skid row.
DDR told ShelterMe.tv:
about 25 pet owners came by for services. These pet parents all live within a short walk of the mobile clinic.
That day, DDR partnered with Spay4LA; 13 cats and dogs received s/n surgeries. Pets who were already s/n received wellness exams including vaccinations and deworming. The dogs were microchipped and licensed as well, with the assistance of LA Animal Services. The city of L.A. even closed a street for the event.
Moby, the musician and animal-rights activist, who donates the profits from his Little Pine vegan restaurant to animal welfare groups, donated sweatshirts. Volunteers distributed pet food, dog beds, pet carriers, collars and leashes. The pet owners who couldn’t make it to the event were assisted by other volunteers, who picked up the needy animals and then returned them to their owners.
According to DDR, the cost to run a typical mobile clinic for one day is about $2000; the value received, PRICELESS! DDR has an Amazon wishlist of items, including pet travel handbags, pet crates, pet food and leashes; purchasing and shipping any of these items will provide a huge help to their organization. The link to that wishlist, along with the shipping address, is here!
If you’re in the L.A. area, or know someone who is, please share this SPAY4LA link for upcoming spay/neuter locations. DDR would like to extend their thanks to Inner City Law Center, who allows DDR to work their miracles at their facility each Wednesday. ICLC recognize and help with the tremendous problem of homelessness in their area. DDR is a charity, serving the South L.A. area with programs to help keep pets with their families. They also have dogs for adoption, on this link; some are pictured throughout this story. If you would like to assist Pets Of The Homeless in your area, please click here!
If you liked that, try this ShelterMe.tv episode: Help Me – see the positive impact a mobile s/n clinic has on a community!