Our first successful Pet Resource Center clinic!

Pet Resource Center clinic 1This past Saturday we had our first Pet Resource Center mobile spay and neuter clinic, which focused on serving Skid Row Community pets. By partnering with Spay4LA and LA Animal Services, the wonderful Dr. Anderson performed 13 spay and neuter surgeries on various cats and dogs. We were happy to see a lot of familiar faces, as well as meet new pet owners who needed to get a kitten or puppy vaccinated, microchipped, and dewormed. There were also pets already spayed and neutered who were in need of basic wellness exams or a thorough check of their skin and ears. All of the dogs we treated were licensed, many for the first time, and a few updated for up to three years.

How would we ever be able to carry out such a smooth, successful event without the support of so many? Our amazing volunteers passed out pet food, dog beds, pet carriers, collars and leashes. Everybody enjoyed lunch and snacks, then went home with a Little Pine hoody Pet Resource Center clinic 2sweatshirt thanks to a donation from Moby. We especially want to thank Inner City Law employee, Neri, who was in the office and ready to help us during the day, all day. Inner City Law Center allowed us to set up our clinic in the back of their parking lot, and the city of LA created a street closure for us! On top of it all, LA Animal Services provided us with an officer to issue licenses and vouchers, and Spay4LA staff made it possible to serve this community which lacks necessary services. We could not do it without these compassionate hearts.

A special thank you goes out to volunteers Burt and Sandy Dragotis who picked up and dropped off many of our pets and pet owners, going the extra mile (figuratively and literally!) to help families and pets in need. And finally, a special thanks to all of YOU. You, our friends and fans and core. You, who purchased items off our Amazon Wish List, allowing the Skid Row community to feel just a little more kindness. Every item we received from you was passed on to them. You, who keep us going and keep us strong. We look forward to many more Pet Resource Center clinics in 2017!

Bringing Brooklyn to Texas

Here’s a feel good story for you to enjoy this week!

We recently boarded Brooklyn, a former West Los Angeles shelter dog who was adopted by a veteran named Raleigh. Shortly after Raleigh rescued Brooklyn, he experienced trouble finding housing and found himself going through difficult times. He decided to head back home to Texas, but didn’t know what to do about Brooklyn. Already having a service dog who was permitted to stay with him, Brooklyn was considered his pet. He loved his pet; he wanted to love his life.

Returning Brooklyn to the animal shelter was not an option for Raleigh. unnamed-9So his counselor at the Veterans Affairs office contacted one of our volunteers and they began working together to help Brooklyn through this time of transition. We agreed to board him at our Downtown Dog Rescue kennel for one month, buying Raleigh some time to plan Brooklyn’s trip to join him. We were happy to offer free boarding and a little leash work in order to keep Brooklyn safe because we knew that soon this cherished dog would get on a plane with his owner. Together, along with his service dog, they would make their way to their Texas home and live out their years as a family.

For us, this is what it’s all about. Meeting people where they’re at, extending a hand, and finding a way to make it work for the animals and the people who love them. Sometimes the solutions are easier, and sometimes they’re tough. But every time, we try to pinpoint an answer to one simple question: “How can we help you?” Here’s to Brooklyn and Raleigh, and their happily ever after.

Here is our Pet Resource Center research so far!

One of the most important components to our new Pet Resource Center on Skid Row is collecting data on who we’re serving in order to better support the community as well as focus our mission. Having been open a little over a month now, we’d like to share some of our initial reporting with you.

The age group we appear to be helping the most so far spans from 50-69 years old. We’ve been moved by how dedicated these people are to their pets, and how bonded they are to one another. The research also shows some good news: not everyone who comes into the center is homeless. About half of those we assist live in some type of housing and found out about us through a case manager or another agency working in the Skid Row community. Less than half came in to get a spay/neuter voucher, and roughly 15% of people needed help with a problem involving their animal. Though not by huge margins, the majority of those we served were female, up to 80% spoke English, and more than 70% were unemployed. Most are receiving public assistance of some sort, and walked to make their way to our door.

Almost 90% of the people we spoke to needed help with a dog whom they were the primary caretaker for. Half of the dogs we saw had never been vaccinated with a rabies shot, and over 70% were not microchipped. Over half of the pets were given to the person by a family member, friend, or neighbor, and the next most popular way animals were acquired was because they were found as strays. Most of the pets were found to be in fair condition, neither too thin nor unkempt. Among the most popular services we offered were flea treatment and deworming medication, microchipping, spay/neuter, vaccinations, and our free food program.

14051779_1164538533608350_8962126221143658928_nTake Irene and Toby (pictured here) as a prime example of how these numbers translate into reality. They were so appreciative to learn that they now have a place to come to each week to pick up pet food. Toby was also neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped through our program, and we helped Irene make Toby an emotional support animal so that she could get into housing with her pet. This is a woman who had been turned down by the shelter because they did not accept animals, unless they were for emotional support. With the help of the Pet Resource Center they both slept soundly inside that very night, and were able to stay together. After all, they are a family.

The data we’ve collected thus far proves that what we’re doing is working. We are proud and reinvigorated. We are grateful to be giving back to an underserved community that needs it. But we are not the solution. We’re just a small part of an overall effort to implement better solutions that will end the homeless crisis. Hopefully more programs are being developed and more answers are being found that will truly help those living on the street, both two-legged and four-legged. Because the world is unpredictable and lives are […]

Our Pet Resource Center on Skid Row is open…and off to a great start!

As you may have heard, we’ve started an easily accessible Pet Resource Center headquartered on Skid Row. After being open just a few weeks, we’ve seen so much need and enjoyed so much success already.

During only our second week, we’ve helped 11 pet owners, some of whom were living on the streets of Skid Row, others who are in supportive housing. Medical vouchers were provided so that people could get vet exams and treatment for pets with medical conditions. Spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and microchipping were also offered, and everybody received free pet food, collars, leashes, and other necessary supplies. We also gave out pet ID tags, as we do for every pet that comes through our program. And what we realized through our interactions and conversations was that by providing opportunities for pet owners with no resources to care for their cats and dogs with dignity, in the way all who love their pets want to do, we are giving so much more than services. What we’re really doing is investing in them as caretakers and human beings, empowering them to be the pet guardians they wish to be. We’re helping them feel good about that, and therefore about themselves again.

Resized_20160721_141315For example, Little Jackie had been at the South LA Animal Shelter too long. Hiding in her cubby, scared and shy, it was doubtful that this sweet little dog would ever be adopted. Being involved with homeless advocacy, we are familiar with LAMP, a nonprofit organization working to end homelessness and help some of the most vulnerable individuals in Los Angeles through a continuum of services and housing. So when our counselor, Amanda, heard that a LAMP community member needed a dog, she thought of Jackie. Because of our collaborations, Jackie has a home today and is making someone very happy! Her unconditional love will help her new owner as he breaks out of the cycle of poverty. And his unconditional love for Jackie has made the difference between life and death.

Another example of how we’ve helped is Tyrone. He is one of the 11 cases who visited our Pet Resource Center recently. When his friend could no longer care for Precious, he offered to take her in. But what he wasn’t prepared for was a puppy – Tyrone had no idea she was pregnant! Through our program, Precious and her puppy, Star, will be supported with basic services including dog food, crates to keep them safe, and eventually both dogs will be spayed and licensed. Now Tyrone and his girls will be supported as they remain together, an intact family.

Our partnership with Inner City Law Center (ICLC), a non-profit law firm providing legal representation for underserved communities of LA, has made this innovative program possible. We’re happy to report that other agencies which provide services for homeless communities have already been in touch with us and are interested to see how we can potentially work together! This makes us even more excited as we look ahead into the future and gradually, responsively tailor our growth.

Because we at DDR know that pets provide stability and love, and many people living […]

Pet Resource Center – coming to Skid Row on July 13th!

Unique partnerships are often at the core of our work, for we cannot accomplish our mission alone. Innovated, new approaches must be created in order to help animals and the people who care about them. That is why we’re happy to tell you about our latest partnership with Inner City Law Center (ICLC) and Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS), which is focused on providing an easily accessible Pet Resource Center on Skid Row on July 13th.

Inner City Law CenterInner City Law Center is a non-profit law firm providing legal representation for the most vulnerable individuals and families in LA who have now where else to turn, regularly combating slum housing, preventing homelessness, and aiding homeless veterans. Los Angeles Animal Services is on of the largest animal shelter systems in the United States, managing six shelters and a high volume of pets. Put them together, and that’s a lot of power we’re lucky to align with. It means we can make a bigger difference.

At DDR, we believe that what is inside a person’s wallet should not be what determines whether they are a loving pet owner, capable of providing care and kindness. We’ve witnessed firsthand how many people living on the streets often rely on their pets for emotional support and companionship, as well as the number of low-income families struggling to pay rent, never mind caring for beloved family pets. Our Pet Resource Center on Skid Row will provide resources and services so that this community is better able to care for and keep their pets. By enabling more families to stay housed and connected, we hope to prevent fewer pets from entering the shelter system and fewer unwanted litters from being produced.

We are so excited about this partnership and the impact it is sure to make. For starters, it gives low-income residents of Skid Row a place to go when they need help with their pets. Many individuals experiencing homelessness or financial hardship are unaware that resources like us even exist. More over, many struggling fear seeking help, assuming it will lead to their cherished animals being taken away from them. We know that no matter what a person’s housing or financial situation may be, there are ways to keep pets with their people, and keep them all safe and happy.

The Pet Resource Center will be open one day a week and run by us and our amazing volunteer team. ICLC will provide the space at its office on Skid Row, and LAAS is supplying the free spay/neuter vouchers plus help with first-time animal registration. The center will provide much more, such as:

  • Free spay/neuter vouchers
  • Assistance with animal registration
  • Vaccinations
  • Microchips
  • ID tags
  • Collars
  • Leashes
  • Crates
  • Access to emergency boarding and short term foster care
  • Medical care at approved partner veterinarian clinics
  • Assistance with transportation to animal hospitals
  • Short-term motel stays for persons who do not have a permanent residence when their pet is undergoing a non-outpatient medical procedure
  • Trained, volunteer counselors to provide the necessary services and offer support

So imagine being somebody who is desperate […]

Community outreach – first quarter stats!

We do much of our work in South Los Angeles, and have been doing it for many years now. But there are other areas where we offer intervention assistance, such as Bell, Compton, Lynwood, South Gate, Maywood, Inglewood, Huntington Park, Paramount, Watts-Willowbrook and Florence-Firestone.

Among these communities, in the first quarter of this year alone, low income and homeless pet owners received 566 services, including free spay and neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and medical assistance such as blood tests, X-rays and medication. We also provided humane euthanasia for pets who needed it, dog training classes, fixed fences, built dog runs, gave monthly pet food donations, and delivered dog houses to a total of 276 pets. Of these almost 300 animals, 36% were large dogs (mostly Pit Bull mixes and Siberian Huskies), 57% were medium to small breed dogs (mostly Chihuahuas and Poodles), and 7% were pet cats.

helping in Gilbert

This work was in addition to the 317 cats and dogs who we’ve assisted in the first three months of 2016, preventing them from entering the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter through our Shelter Intervention Program. On top of it all, we vaccinate free of charge an average of 150 dogs and cats living in South LA every month at Gilbert Lindsay Park.

We added it up and are proud to say that in the first quarter of 2016, we’ve assisted 1043 dogs and cats by offering free and subsidized services, helping to keep them with their families! We are so proud of the work we’re lucky enough to do day in, and day out. How do we make this happen? How do we continue to expand our services into the communities that need our help the most? We do it with your support, your donations, and your volunteering. We do it because of you, and we do it with you.

Gilbert

There is an old saying: whatever you focus on grows. We see this truth in animal behavior all the time! So let’s take it a step further. Let’s focus on what we want in our communities, instead of what we don’t want, and offer families with pets an alternative to surrendering them to a shelter when their situations gets dire. Let’s help keep pets in their first home, their forever home. And let’s continue doing it together.

Here’s to working hard to achieve three more successful quarters this year, and onwards.

How one man, one dog, and one night can make a difference.

People ask us all the time: Do you still help homeless people with pets?

image1Our answer is, Yes. Of course we do. But there’s more to that answer than we usually share, and those unsaid words are actually the most important. The real answer is, No. We help people with pets.

More and more, we are hoping to move away from the label of homeless, because for many who live outside, they do have a home. Their home is the street. Here is a story of one such man, his one dog, and their home on the street. This is a story about how a few of us worked together to help them.

This duo has been together for thirteen years, and many of those years have been spent camping at a park or under a bridge. They go everywhere together, do everything together, and this gentle man brushes his dog every single day. He calls her, “his heart.” Having seen them for months in the area, sometimes panhandling for money, sometimes simply walking by, we got to know them. We asked for their names, their stories. We shook his hand and stroked her Shepherd ears.

And what happened over the course of our encounters with them is that we began to care for him and his dog, as we have cared for many families before who have also lived on the street. We decided it would be great to give them a night in a comfy motel room. We were over the moon at the idea of helping this pair have a chance to recharge. Even if it was only for one night, and even if it didn’t “solve the problem,” we felt this small gesture would mean a great deal. And we were right. A night of peaceful, dry sleep. Of hot water. Of feeling safe. Can we put a price on that? Don’t we all deserve that? Isn’t it possible to feel renewed by everyday niceties?

Solving problems cannot be accomplished without first taking action. For this one man and his dog, a connection, which did not exist before now, came into his life. Similarly to when we rescue or adopt one pet from an animal shelter, it does not solve the entire shelter system or all the pet overpopulation problems. And yet it is worthwhile. It means something to touch that life. So we take small actions, and over time we look back at a pile, a heap of steps traveled, and we see they have grown large. They then become a foundation.

We have built our foundation. A lot can be accomplished when just a few creative, compassionate people take action, and no matter how little the first step might be, it has a ripple effect. For this man and his dog, it brought more than a night of security and comfort, it brought recognition, respect, and hope. We will continue to work at supporting them however we can. Please continue to help us do so. The more you get our backs, the more we can get their’s, and possibly soon we will be able to live […]

We spent our Valentine’s Day the perfect way.

We spent our Valentine’s Day spreading the love the best way we know how: By holding a clinic that offered free spay and neuter, vaccinations, microchips and so much more to over 200 cats and dogs. This February 14th clinic, held at Gilbert Lindsay park, was our busiest clinic yet. After teams of DDR volunteers went door to door to pass out flyers over two consecutive Saturdays, the message got out to families with pets who live in 90011, and the message began to spread. We decided to focus our efforts on 90011 because the average income there is less than $30,000 per year, more than 60% of the residents rent their home, and it’s a very dense area with a population of more than 100,000 people. There are a lot of dogs and zero animal hospitals located in the immediate vicinity. Many homeless people live in the park, and many people have no transportation other than the bus, which does not allow dogs or cats on board. Getting help for pets is scarce.

 

There were so many highlights at this clinic, so many wins. Seeing all the families who brought back their puppies for their next round of vaccinations. The exams we offered right on the spot where doctors explained how to care for various types of chronic medical issues also brought us much joy, as it provided each pet a more compassionate and humane existence. Plus our spay and neuter sign up sheet got so full, it looks like we’ll be booking our next free clinic on Sunday, March 13th! Parvo, DHPP and rabies vaccinations were given to all dogs over four months old, and puppies weeks and older received their boosters and worming medicine. Every pet received free flea and tick treatment thanks to a donation from the manufacturer of Frontline. In that vein, we also appreciate everyone who donated hundreds of pounds of dog food as almost every family went home with a big bag of kibble or a case of canned food. There were collars and leashes for those who needed, and we were there for the cats as well.

The park staff was incredibly supportive, allowing us to hang up two banners in the park near the basketball courts and soccer field. Flyers hanging in the recreation room also helped get the word out. It was incredible to watch a line forming so long, we had to cut it off an hour before the clinic was scheduled to shut down just to manage volume. Our SCVMA volunteer vets and vet techs were amazing and generous with their time, as always. The fact is that without their support these free clinics would not be possible. Adding to the stellar team, Amanda, our Shelter Intervention Program counselor, set up her table right at the park, positioning herself to give further assistance to families with pets needing a further hand. We were able to help several serious medical issues, including a very large hernia on a very small Chihuahua.

We also hired a community groomer – Willy’s Grooming – to groom matted and tangled poodles and terriers. To watch families delight in how beautiful their dogs looked after a bath, and to have the opportunity […]