Meet our Social Worker

Meet our new social worker, Jackie Parra. Her first day, on site at the South Los Angeles Shelter, was April 9th. Thanks to a generous grant from https://www.californiaforallanimals.com/ DDR is able to employ her full-time, Tuesdays-Saturdays. Jackie has her masters in social work, and lots of experience working with unhoused people. She shares our belief that everyone deserves to be compassionately supported.                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Different than the work that our shelter intervention counselors, Amanda and Yesenia continue to do, Jackie focuses on preventing people from becoming homeless, thanks to our partners on this grant https://www.heartla.org/about-heart  Together, HEART and DDR assist people with pets who might come to the shelter to surrender their cat or dog because they believe that they have no alternatives to avoid an eviction. In addition, Jackie is there to provide increased access to a wide variety of benefits, including EBT and SSI to name a few. Most important, she is there to be that empathetic listener for people in crisis. 

 

Rather than referring people to other agencies to receive case management services, DDR is now able to provide a one-stop-source for all types and human and animal services, with a goal of keeping people housed, and finding a path to permanent housing for those that are unsheltered with their pets.

Check out our April report

Children (0 – 17): 0
Adults (18 – 59): 7
Seniors (60+): 6
Other (unknown): 1
Total Cases: 14
Children (0 – 17) in Households: 0
Adults (18 – 59) in Households: 7
Seniors (60+) in Households: 6
Other (unknown) in Households: 1
Total Households: 14 households with a total of 14 members

We want to share a story of how this innovative program helped one person and her two dogs avoid becoming unsheltered. Sonia (not her real name) had lived for more than two decades in her rented home when it burned down, leaving her nowhere to go with her two dogs. Her landlord was able to place her in a temporary shelter that denied the dogs. While she slept […]

Quality of Life Clinics for Suffering Pets

We believe that it is crucial to reflect on the profound impact humane euthanasia can have on both pets and their devoted families. While the decision to say goodbye is undeniably agonizing, it’s a compassionate act born out of love, mercy, and the unyielding desire to alleviate suffering. So when we bought our mobile veterinary clinic, offering access to humane euthanasia was definitely going to be part of our monthly services that we offer our community.

Wednesday evening was our first Quality of Life Clinic (QLC) for pets who live with unhoused people and low income families, who cannot afford veterinary care, including humane euthanasia.  Access to humane euthanasia is not something that is widely discussed, and we do not receive a grant to fund this work, but we believe that it is an essential service. No family should feel that surrendering a pet to the shelter is their only option because they cannot afford end of life services at an animal hospital. Not every senior pet in dire medical condition was “dumped” by their owner. Many senior, suffering pets end up in shelters as a result of the high costs for humane euthanasia.

10 year old Daz received a Quality of Life exam and Dr. Hoffman was able to prescribe medication for his arthritis, and giving his family hope for improvement.

 

Our QLC runs from 4pm to 8pm, and can see up to eight patients, using our veterinary mobile clinic, and a second recovery room trailer. Our first patient, Aurora had advanced kidney failure, cancer, and was clearly suffering.  When her family tried to surrender her to the Harbor Shelter because they believed that was their only option to end her suffering, a staff member referred them to us, explaining that we would help Aurora.  Even though humane euthanasia was the “right thing to do”, it was very painful for them to make the decision. 

Lucky, an 11 year old Chihuahua / Terrier had been in our program for years. Despite trying several different types of treatments, multiple blood panels, monthly medications, his autoimmune disease was progressing rapidly, and he was clearly in pain.  His quality of life was poor.  Dr. Hoffman spent time with Lucky’s family, listening to all their concerns, and helping them ultimately come to the decision to humanely euthanize Lucky, ending his suffering.

Lucky’s family described him as their child. No words could express how much they loved him

16 year old Harley was blind, deaf, could no longer walk, and had stopped eating earlier in the week.  Her person is a senior citizen in poor health, so a family member brought Harley to our clinic.  Her family had already made up their mind to end her suffering, and Dr. Hoffman reassured them that they were making the kindest choice, and that Harley was in pain. Living on a fixed income, without our QLC, Harley may […]

DDR wants to keep pets with their family – even when they don’t have housing

Watch DDR on ABC!  A reporter came out to Clancy’s Closet to highlight what our thrift store for pets is offering our community.  Then, he went with DDR staff and volunteers to do street outreach, where they passed out pet food and supplies, meeting people with pets where they are, while encouraging unhoused people to register their pets to be spayed and neutered.

Watch here  https://abc7.com/downtown-dog-rescue-pet-care-homeless-los-angeles/14612593/

Pet Support Space 2023 Review

In 2023, we provided services for 6,413 family pets: 4627 dogs and 1784 cats living in South East and South Central Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Skid Row, and parts of Wilmington.

Humane Euthanasia for terminally ill, suffering, mostly senior dogs. For many of these pets, their families could not afford the cost of humane euthanasia, or they were unaware of what it is.  Without our support, some of these pets would be surrendered to the shelter system not because their family wanted to “dump” their old dog or cat, the families were low income, and could not raise enough money to go to an animal hospital.  We partner with Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) staff, who refer cases to DDR, keeping more pets from unnecessarily entering the shelter system.

General Wellness is offered through our free vaccination clinics with the Southern California Veterinary Medicine Association.  Volunteer veterinarians and techs come together once a month, for the past eight years, to vaccinate, microchip, deworm, and provide flea + tick medication for thousands of cats and dogs.

Medical Expenses for more extensive veterinary care such as ear, eye, skin infections, but include medical emergencies such as pets that were hit-by-car, poisoned, of which the majority are referred to our counselors through LASS where we have counselors on site at the South Los Angeles and Harbor Shelters.  Meeting low income families with pets in a time of crisis is the shelter intervention component to our mission of keeping pets and people together, and to eliminate suffering.

Spay/Neuter is still the best solution to preventing suffering. Currently there are more families who want to spay/neuter their pets than there are available and affordable appointments.  

The Food Program collects data on people with pets who receive ongoing monthly food and supply support.  Our food program numbers do not take into account all of the one-time meetings where we offer people with pets food, and other necessary supplies like a leash or a crate.  Working with agencies such as Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority LAHSA outreach workers who often stop by Clancy’s Closet to pick up everything that they need for their clients with pets. Making it a one-stop-shop place to get food, crate, blankets, collar & leash, etc.

The majority of all of our donations go towards funding our Pet Support Space program.  We are always happy to share our data, answer any questions, especially from other non profits interested in doing this type of work.  We could not continue our mission without YOUR support!  THANK YOU!

Clancy’s Closet 2023

About this time last year, we signed a one year lease on a retail storefront located on the Tweedy Mile in South Gate. With a goal of creating a safe space where all community members with pets feel understood and supported, this space became our new location for our Pet Support Space office and Clancy’s Closet, a thrift store for pets, named in honor of Clancy, one of the greatest dogs who ever lived. We accomplished a lot in 2023, and wanted to share some highlights with you!

 

We opened for business in February, with limited store hours, but we’ve expanded our hours to Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10am to 2:30pm, and Saturday 1:00 to 4:00 because the South Los Angeles community supported us by shopping, and donating to give back to our community. And, of course, there are the volunteers!

There is no way we could receive donations, prepare them for the display, assist customers, decorate the store, and so much more without our dedicated volunteer participants.  These are the volunteers who have been DDR clients with their pets, who were looking for a way to return to work part time, wanted to go back to school, had a goal of getting and maintaining stable permanent housing.  Each participants volunteers a minimum of four hours per week, and in exchange, DDR gives them gift cards to buy groceries, pays monthly school tuition, furthering their personal goals. In addition, DDR staff continues to support each participant through their journey of signing up for online benefits, dealing with various agencies that distribute benefits.  We advocate for them, making sure that they are on the fast track to housing, or if in housing, stay in it, and create a safe place to call home. We enrolled a total of six people, and three have worked for six months or more.

On Saturdays, our outstanding high school students run Clancy’s Closet.  The store is often their first opportunity to learn job skills, such as customer service, making pet ID tags for $1 donation, pricing items, making change + counting the drawer at the end of the day. They stock our “little free library” with books for children.  The students bring so much positive energy as our next generation of animal welfare advocates.

 

During this past year, we met a lot of families, who needed help with finding low cost spay/neuter, especially for cats.  Some of our customers were reluctant to get their pets spayed or neutered, but with lots of great information that included having a conversation about the benefits for the pet, their family, and the community, changed some people’s opinions on […]

Increasing Access to Veterinary Care

In December, our Cat Box Clinic vaccinated 35 kittens and cats and provided more extensive veterinary services, including treating skin, ear eye, and upper respiratory infections, for a total of 14 kittens and cats.  Kittens like “Boots”, a 6 week old who was rescued off the street, covered in motor oil, in an area where cats are not treated well.  Even though Boots’ person is unhoused at the present time, and did not plan on adopting a kitten, they could not “leave him on the street to die”.  Our medical director Dr. Rachel Hoffman and RVT Claudia, gave the kitten the best possible care, with instructions on how to bathe, administer meds, and provide ongoing care for little Boots.  So sick when he arrived, he could barely move, and now look at him, just days into his treatment plan.  In order to make sure this kitten and his brother “Puss” receive no cost veterinary care, we arranged for this little family to be picked up, and taken back home at the end of the clinic.  Because their person does not have access to warm water for bathing, we made it possible for Boots to get a bath at Clancy’s Closet the following day. Now, they have a place to go, people to turn to whenever they need help, or just someone to listen to them with empathy.

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Check out some of the other cats that receive veterinary care in our rented 20ft storage container that we converted into an animal hospital. A model that can and should be scaled up so that our mission of decreasing unnecessary suffering for pets and their people can expand.

 

When people find themselves in a situation where they cannot afford necessary veterinary care for their beloved pets, it can lead to immense emotional distress and mental anguish. The deep emotional bond between a person and their pet often parallels the connection shared within a family. As a result, witnessing a pet in distress or knowing they require medical attention but being unable to provide it due to financial constraints can trigger various forms of emotional suffering that includes feelings of helplessness and guilt, increased stress and anxiety that can negatively impact their mental and physical health, and in a worse case scenario grief and loss.

Too often we hear phrases like “Don’t get a pet if you can’t afford to take care of the pet.” The reality is sometimes that cat or dog rescued the person, no matter how much money they have, or their ability to pay for veterinary care.  We know that for many of us, our pets have saved our lives by giving us a reason to live, and to hope for tomorrow.  How about you? Did you plan on getting your pet, or did he or she just “happen” or “show up […]

Community Pet Clinics

Every month, DDR provides free to low cost veterinary services for the communities that we work in.  We wanted to let all of our supporters know what your donations are supporting.

We contract with Spay4LA mobile spay/neuter clinic to provide surgeries for up to 30 pets once a month in South Los Angeles.  We have now added another location that we want to go to monthly, The Refresh Spot on Skid Row. This clinic is free spay and neuter for all Skid Row residents with cats and dogs.

One of the Eight Cats that was spayed and neutered

One of the five dogs that were spayed and neutered

DDR covers the cost of a one year dog license

In order to get the word out, our team goes out with a Los Angeles Animal Services staff member, walking the dense blocks of Skid Row, connecting with unhoused people with pets.  It’s through these conversations that we book the surgery appointments.

Meeting people where they are, offering them services that help them reach their goals

For the past seven years, in collaboration with the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association, we have hosted a monthly free vaccination clinic for low income families with pets.  This month, we vaccinated, microchipped, dewormed, and provided flea and tick meds to more than 200 pets.

Volunteer veterinary staff makes these large scale clinics possible

We offer vaccinations to puppies and always provide spay and neuter resources and support

Approximately 2000 -2500 pets are vaccinated yearly thru our monthly free clinics

Some of the pets need more care than our basic drive thru clinic can offer. Especially the cats! We started the Cat Box Clinic which is a monthly free to low cost cat clinic that treats ear and skin infections, offers more extensive exams, we can give IVs, draw blood, etc.  Basically veterinary care without surgeries.  Our medical director is Dr. Rachel Hoffman. 

3 month old Osito was sick and suffering

The Cat Box Clinic consists of a rented contractor’s container style office, with two exam tables, and all of our supplies.  We have no specific funding for this cat clinic.  No support from the City or County of Los Angeles.  We pay 100% of the cost of medicine and staffing this clinic.  Most families can donate about $20.  It’s because of your donations that we are […]

Cat Box Clinic

Photo of Stormy when she was healthier

 

12 year old Stormy’s elderly and ill person, who is currently unhoused, came to the Harbor Shelter, pleading for help.  Stormy was recently diagnosed with diabetes. She has not wanted to eat or stand up for the last week.  Her quality of life had declined rapidly.  Our shelter intervention program manager, Amanda listened to Stormy’s person tell her how much she had gone through over the past few weeks.  Being very ill, recovering from a major surgery, getting the news that Stormy was sick hit her hard. Watching Stormy suffer daily, was too much.  With the little money she had after paying for the diagnosis, she decided that humane euthanasia was the best option.  However, the animal hospital where she went would not euthanize Stormy because they told her that “She didn’t try everything”  First, she couldn’t afford to try everything, the hospital didn’t offer to treat Stormy for free or give her resources for low cost, which pretty much don’t exist.  So she drove around with Stormy getting sicker each day. With no other options, she arrived at the Harbor Shelter, and instead of surrendering Stormy, we offered to send her to a partner animal hospital where she could hold Stormy, and have her cremated.  This was her only companion for the past twelve years.

Imagine knowing that your pet is slowly dying, is suffering, and because you can’t afford veterinary care, you helplessly watch, or surrender your pet to a shelter.  No one should have to make that type of decision, especially someone who is unhoused and seriously ill.  Yet, everyday, low income families with pets bring them to the shelter to surrender them because they cannot access affordable veterinary care.  We have counselors at the South LA Shelter and the Harbor Shelter to meet people with pets who are in crisis, need some type of support or resources, access to spay and neuter, and provide ongoing, long term support through our Pet Support Space.

Location: Receiving area for "owner surrendered animals" Counselor Yesenia speaking to a family needing help with their pet

Because we have so many low income people in need of basic veterinary care for their pet cats, we created “Cat Box Clinic”, which is a clinic in a rented contractor’s office.

20 ft container that can moved anywhere

At a cost of $450 per month, the container was delivered fully finished with flooring, shades, lights, and air conditioning. Next, we partnered with an awesome veterinarian and RVT who are helping us every step of the way, telling us what equipment and supplies to order.  Our goal will be to see patients one evening per week from 5PM – 9PM by appointment only.  No emergencies, no surgeries, we will focus on treating chronic suffering from skin and ear infections, conditions like mange or ringworm. We will offer […]

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