Asking the right question: Pet overpopulation or Poverty

BennyOne of the most common questions I’ve been asked for almost twenty years now is: If a person can’t take care of themselves and their family, why should they have a pet?

When I began working with homeless dog owners living on Skid Row back in 1996, this wasn’t a question I ever considered because it wasn’t any of my business. I have always believed, and still do believe, that everyone deserves support. Meeting someone where they are in life today, in whatever situation they’re in, along with their pet, and offering them options, resources, and solutions is vital in order to truly make lasting change for animals.

It’s highly likely that if you’re reading this blog, you care deeply about animals. We’re so glad that you do. But what about their people? Because many of these people are extremely poor; it can feel to them as if they’ll never get out from under it. Some live on the street, or in their cars, or they rely on motel vouchers to get by. And these same people often sneak their pets into those motels when no one is looking, or hide them on the bus, or make the street-life or car-living work for as long as possible until they are forced to give up their pet. Yes, forced. Because the truth is, some of the families we serve make an income of less than $1,000 a month. Sometimes it’s far less than that. Whether low income or no income, the working poor, or under employed, however it’s defined, this population has one thing in common when it comes to their animals: if a single minor emergency happens, there is little if anything that the pet owner can do.

For example, this little dog (pictured left) was almost surrendered to the South LA Shelter for having seizures.  The family paid for an exam and were told by the veterinarian that his condition could be very expensive, including daily medicine and more testing.  Despite not wanting to surrender “their baby,” the family felt they had no choice. They could not afford the treatments and procedures.  That’s where our shelter intervention program stepped in and offered financial assistance in order to help keep one more little brown Chihuahua from coming into the shelter.  Because this dog had a home and a loving family who wanted him. Should they be deemed unworthy of having a pet simply because they couldn’t afford his extreme health condition? We don’t think that’s fair. We believe in opening our hearts to animals, and the people who love them.

Furthermore, we know that the only thing constant is change.  The family mentioned above who is living in poverty with their dog may work their way up and out of their current financial situation. They may be able to one day support themselves without assistance, and it could happen in a matter of months or a couple years. We hope it does. But the life expectancy of a Chihuahua  is 15-18 years. Therefore, in theory, any dog in any family […]

Stories from the shelter intervention/prevention program

Romeo is homeless and relies on our shelter intervention /prevention program to feed his dog Snoopy. There are many families who start off in desperate situations with their pets, thinking they have no choice but to surrender their pet to a shelter.  Many get through the crisis and they need monthly pet food and other supplies. Thanks to a generous donation from The Urban Pet we were able to distribute dog food last week.

We meet families who are transitioning out of homelessness and are living in a motels.  There are many motels that are very low cost and Pups saved through SIPcharge by the week, allowing pets.  When Roscoe was diagnosed with parvo, despite being close to two years old, his family barely had enough money to pay their weekly motel fees. Taking him to a vet was not a possibility. With no money and no transportation DDR was the only place for his family to turn to.  Another one of our special families, who also lives in the motel, gave Roscoe’s family a ride to the vet where Roscoe was treated.


In partnership with The Rescue Train, we have expand our program to serve the East Valley Shelter.  Here is a story from last week.  Look at the smiles on this mom and son’s faces, THEY FOUND THEIR BIRD! They went to the East Valley Shelter looking for their bird, they found him, but they didn’t have the $17 to redeem him. DDR paid the fees so their bird could go back home.

Downtown Dog Rescue now oversees two shelter intervention/prevention programs at South LA Shelter made possible by Found Animals Foundation and East Valley in our partnership with the Rescue Train.  We appreciate LA Animal Services for trusting us to run this program and for all the support we receive from LAAS staff and volunteers. Over 5000 pets have been prevented from entering a shelter since we started in April of 2013.  We believe that every person deserves a second chance, an opportunity to learn and have options to make informed decisions.  By giving pet owners options, we will continue to see less animals surrendered to shelters.


2nd Anniversary for the South LA Shelter Intervention Program

On April 6, 2015, we celebrated the South LA Shelter Intervention Program’s SECOND ANNIVERSARY!SLA-sign

As of April 6, 2013, DDR has served 4,846 cats, dogs, rabbits, and a couple goats and chickens! We could not offer this program without the financial support from Found Animals Foundation and the approval of LA Animal Services to allow our counselor Amanda to be in the shelter, right next to the office where animals coming into the shelter are being surrendered. This program is more than just preventing animals from entering the shelter, it’s about offering families with pets resources and options instead of surrendering their pets. If you follow this page, you already know that most of the cases are centered around the problem of poverty.

We want to thank all the rescue groups like A Purposeful Rescue Angel City Pit Bulls Dawg Squad animal rescue for their support and service providers The Amanda Foundation The Sam Simon Foundation’s Mobile Veterinary Clinic North Figueroa Animal Hospital and Alondra Animal Hospital Puppy Imprinters Academy and Willie’s Grooming and Pet Shop and Kennels and most of all for the ASPCA who was a major game changer for our program when they opened up a FREE spay/neuter clinic for low income pet owners who live in South Los Angeles. We no longer need to scramble to figure out how and when to help a pet owner get their dog or cat sterilized.

Every day, Amanda tells people to walk next door, literally five feet from her office and get their pet spayed or neutered free. The support they have offered our program is amazing. We are grateful for all of our supporters and YOU, who follow this page, donate supplies, offer to transport pets to clinic appointments, donate funds to care for a very sick pet and even pay for families to live in a motel with their dog until they can get into permanent housing.

We could not do this without all of YOUR support. All of the families with pets living in South LA THANK YOU for your help!!


Get Ready for GIVING TUESDAY November 25th

If 1000 Downtown Dog Rescue Supporters donate $10 each, you can help us reach our goal of raising $10,000! 

When you donate at least $10, you are part of the positive change happening at the South LA Shelter, where families like Angie and her daughter, who needed help paying a pet deposit so that “Barley” could stay in his home, with his family, instead of being surrendered to the shelter.

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Most of the families that we meet do not want to surrender their pet. In fact, most have tried everything they know, to keep their pet out of the shelter. Poverty is the main reason thousands of pet owners that we have assisted, consider surrendering their pet to the South LA Shelter.

Downtown Dog Rescue pays for medical treatment, pet deposits, pays for dog licenses, offers free weekly dog training classes in Compton and sponsored more than 10,000 free spay/neuter surgeries, for dog and cats living in some of the most under served communities in Los Angeles County.

NOVEMBER 254th is GIVING TUESDAY  We need you and 999 other supporters to donate at least $10 to help us reach our goal.  Click here to donate