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.
For 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 on the streets rely on their pets for emotional support and companionship. Many low-income families struggle to pay rent, finding it difficult to care for their beloved pets on top of that. So the goal of our new program is to provide the resources that help keep pets with their people, no matter where they live, no matter who they are. Ultimately, another benefit will be fewer pets entering the Los Angeles shelter system and fewer unwanted litters.
The Pet Resource Center is only a small part of the solution, and for now we’re open one day a week, working every minute of that day. We will need more volunteers in order to help transport pets to appointments, do door-to-door outreach, visit pet owners in their apartments and on the streets, and collect supplies so that we never have to turn anyone away. We look forward to increasing our hours of operation at the Pet Resource Center and to doing more for the communities who truly need us. But this means we need you, your support, your time, your donations. By providing low-income residents on Skid Row with a place to go when they need help caring for their pets, we hope more people will become aware of the support available to them during hard times. And that less animals will have to suffer because of it.
Thank you for backing us and cheering us oh, friends. Also, special thanks to KPCC for covering our story, as well as NBC LA and LA Times. We’re so grateful for their help spreading the word. Together we are going to move a mountain.