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 to 2,758 animals. This is huge! That is a lot of animals getting fixed, tackling the overpopulation problem at its most basic level. The good news is that since we began our program in 2013, there are now far more and better free spay/neuter services in town, including the ASPCA free spay/neuter clinic at the South LA shelter. This has cut down the number of cases we need to pay for, meaning we can instead put those funds into other areas, such as helping with medical issues.
Speaking of what has changed since we started, both North Central and East Valley now have amazing sister programs. The best part is we all work together and support one another. Furthermore, the ASPCA is also running two programs at the Downey shelter and Baldwin Park shelter, which were both modeled after SIP.
Hundreds of people have bought and read our book, First Home Forever Home which offers a step by step manual on how to set up a shelter intervention program. Calls, emails, and even visits to our shelter to spend time with our lead counselor, Amanda, have come from all over the country. The point is, this isn’t just about preventing pets from entering one shelter. It’s about understanding a symptom of poverty across our nation, and doing something about it. Shifting cultural ideas. Moving mountains. Spreading the movement far and wide to meet people where they’re at and effecting lasting change.
We could never have the strength and perseverance to keep on doing this work without support from people like you. So please continue to donate, promote our work, and get involved! The medical expenses get bigger each month, and the number of cases we take on grows. The need is greater. Becoming a monthly sponsor ensures that the SIP program will continue and bloom, including the ability to pay our staff and collaborate with our partners in order to provide extraordinary services. A special thanks goes out to Found Animals Foundation, our major funder, who makes everything possible. We’re grateful to LA Animal Services as well for believing in our concept, and for inviting us to be inside the shelters, daring to work alongside us as we discover this new approach for helping animals and their families.
So what’s next for our work at DDR? Where is 2017 taking us? We are planning to spread out from the shelters and further into the communities that need the most help. Areas like LA’s Skid Row, where we now run the Pet Resource Center once a week. Communal events, like the South LA mega dog clinic, which sees more than 200 dogs in a single morning. Our thinking hats are always on as we continue to develop the cutting edge, innovative, and necessary programs designed to empower, educate, and encourage people to be the best pet owners they can be.
Please give here. Stand with us. Help our 5th anniversary be even bigger and brighter next year.