Happy 4th anniversary to SIP!

On April 6th we celebrated our 4th anniversary of the South LA Shelter Intervention Program (SIP). For four years, three counselors (one full-time and two part-time) have sat at the South LA Shelter every week from Tuesday through Saturday talking to pet owners compassionately.

“Why are you surrendering your dog/cat/rabbit to the South LA shelter?”and “How can we help you keep your pet?” and “What do you need from us in order to care for your pet further?” These type of questions permeate the air at our table, which is set up in front of the receiving desk at the shelter.

The families we helped required a variety of services, but one thing was unanimous among them all: INFORMATION. Helpful information about proper pet care and support services lacks so desperately in their communities, and that’s why we’re so grateful we are there to support them.

Since we started our SIP program in 2013, we have assisted a total of 7,172 pets (that’s 6,564 dogs, 589 cats and 19 rabbits)! Here is a rundown of the services we provided, of where your donations directly go:

  • We assisted with 283 license fees and redemptions, paying full or partial fees to get impounded cats and dogs back home.
  • We paid for 331 humane euthanasias. These were for senior, terminally ill pets who no longer had quality of life and who would have otherwise been euthanized in the shelter without their family present. Instead, we sent them to one of our partner animal hospitals so the family could be with their pet, wishing them well at the end of their life, letting them pass in peace, with dignity and love.
  • We worked on 2786 medical cases, ranging from vaccinations to orthopedic surgery. Most of the time, the pet owner was struggling with an ongoing medical issue, such as infected skin or ears. Some people had paid for services in the past but were completely out of money and unable to pay for more. We often heard, “I took him to vet…we had him on medication…he isn’t getting better and I can’t afford anymore care.” This is were we stepped in to lend a hand.
  • 281 dogs needed help with dog training issues, which we paid for so the owners could attend free of charge and manage their pets better at home.
  • We helped 335 people with landlord issues, such as getting their pet certified as an Emotional Support Animal or dealing with a notice to comply, usually for fence/gate repair as it relates to tethering. This has shown to be such an extreme area of need that we have now partnered with Inner City Law Center moving forward! We’re excited to have a full time attorney who can devote her time to pet related housing cases for very low income pet owners. This includes pet owners who are experiencing homelessness and need reasonable accommodations that will allow them to bring their pet while they look for permanent housing.
  • 398 cats and dogs needed to be rehomed or were placed with a rescue organization. Many of them ended up at our own kennel, and were later adopted into happy homes.
  • Lastly, spay and neuter assistance was extended […]

Data on evictions and how it effects pets

We see first hand through our SIP program and even at the Pet Resource Center how evictions hurt families and their pets. Countless animals are in the shelter now due to eviction, as we see it as one of the biggest reasons for surrendering an animal time and time again.

With a less affordable housing market and higher rents and mortgages across the country, people are finding it harder and harder to keep up with their payments. The numbers are even higher among foreign born citizens, which makes many believe that immigrants are being especially targeted. As this article with plenty of data on evictions states, “The lack of a right to counsel in housing court by tenants facing eviction has led to an imbalance of legal representation in favor of landlords paving the way for abuse of the court system through eviction proceedings.”

This is why we teamed up with Inner City Law Center – in order to try and help prevent families with pets from being forced out of their homes. Since our program started in July, 36 of our cases were referred to ICLC’s attorney Diane Prado. She has then represented pet owners facing eviction in order to defend their rights and their homes as much as possible. Because the amount of stress families endure on a daily basis when they’re home life is threatened – not knowing where they will move to, or if they will become homeless, or how they will ever be able to keep their pet – is a terrifying reality. Basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter are a necessary foundation, and without one of them it becomes increasingly difficult to be stable, to move up, to get a better job, to go back to school, or even to dream.

Until one is facing an eviction or cannot pay their rent, one will never know how they would respond. We hope you will support us as we support those who are unfortunately dealing with these circumstances and trying desperately to keep their two and four legged family members together. There’s a fairer, juster way to keep people in their homes…we hope to be a part of figuring it out.