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.
Take 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 fragile. Some of the people who are in housing today may not be next month. And none of us ever truly know what lies ahead. Thankfully, the Pet Resource Center is open and running now. We will be there to offer all the support we can, one case at a time. Although the reporting is crucial to continuing our work, what really matters are the lives we touch and the smiles we witness while we listen, support, and extend a helping hand.
Special thanks goes out to the Inner City Law Center who allow us to set up shop in their office. Without their support, the Pet Resource Center would not be possible. And thank you to LA Animal Services who will be assisting our program in the coming months with spay/neuter vouchers.