On April 6, 2013, with one counselor, and a goal of maybe preventing 400 pets per year, our South LA Shelter Intervention Program was launched. Today, as we did back in 2013, we ask one simple question, “How can we help you keep your pet?” Today, our this program is run as a full time, six day a week program, thanks to a generous grant from the Michelson Found Animals Foundation, partnering with Los Angeles Animal Services, we have assisted more than 11,000 family pets stay in their first home – forever home.
Most of the need is medical services, which range from a vaccination, to a tumor removal surgery, relief from a chronic eye, ear of skin condition, and all types of medical treatments, including crisis care for parvo and pets being hit by cars or attacked by another animal.
All of our pet owner are low income, most living at, or below the poverty line. Some live pay check to pay check, with little or no extra money in their budget for a pet emergency. While others are experiencing homelessness, and their cat or dog is their best friend, and they have no money to pay for any services.
This model has spread to three other shelters, run by two other non profits. Home Dog LA runs the North Central program and Rescue Train runs both the East and West Valley shelter programs.
Imagine a day when every shelter has this type of program. A pet owner would never have to surrender their pet to the shelter because they could not afford to pay for a spay/neuter surgery, a dog license, redemption fees, costs associated with a notice to comply, humane euthanasia, and all types of medical care.
While this program is not 100% free to the pet owner, we ask each person to pay what they can, offering them assistance in raising money, finding solutions to cover the costs involved. DDR pays what the pet owner cannot afford. This is more than a shelter diversion program, or program to reduce the numbers of cats and dogs being euthanized at shelters due to space. Shelter Intervention is about helping people, many who are in a personal crisis that involves far more than their pet. Many tears, both happy and sad, have been shed at the shelter intervention table, over these past seven years, some stories too personal to write on this blog or share on social media. Not every case has a happy ending, but to offer a pet owner options, to offer hope, to let people know that someone cares about them and their pets is the priceless gift that our counselors give Tuesday – Sunday at the South LA Shelter #becauseweallneedhelpsometimes