What is Shelter Intervention?
The Shelter Intervention Program (SIP) is the innovation of Lori Weise, Founder and Executive Director of Downtown Dog Rescue. It’s a program born of more than 20 years working with pets owned by the homeless community and low-income residents of Los Angeles, and is founded on the idea that the national’s shelter euthanasia crisis is not solely a pet problem, but a poverty problem.
SIP reduces pet intake in LA animal shelters by assisting individuals to keep or reclaim, as well as properly care for their animals.
Delivered in partnership with the municipal shelter, volunteer counselors offer solutions to individuals who often believe surrendering their pet is their only option. SIP works to deliver multilevel social service support, aiming for compassionate outcomes for people and animals in crisis.
Where and how does SIP work?
DDR’s direct experience has shown that most of the people surrendering their pets to the shelter are going through financial hardship. In general, we confront two basic situations:
- pets are impounded by Animal Control and people can’t afford to reclaim them,
- or owners have made the difficult decision to surrender their pet for one of various reasons.
Each client who expresses interest in keeping his or her pet fills out an intake form and speaks with an Intervention Counselor. Counselors are trained to listen without judgment, trace the root causes of the problems being presented, and offer holistic solutions.
DDR assesses, listens, and formulates an individualized plan with each client, empowering them in the process. Owners become invested, helping to raise funds when needed, problem solving, and contributing however possible.
The first Shelter Intervention Program was launched as a pilot program in the South Los Angeles City Shelter in April 2013. Now, with guidance and support from Downtown Dog Rescue, SIP programs have been replicated and are operating in three additional municipal shelters, run by separate nonprofit animal welfare organizations.