Last month, DDR counselors were on site at the South LA Shelter when a young man approached their table.  He had received a notice to “get rid of his dogs” or he would be evicted after living there with the dogs for ten years.  Counselor Amanda educated him about his rights as renter, and immediately connected him with H.E.A.R.T.LA attorney Dianne Prado.  Dianne was able to write a letter of accommodation for him, which would make it illegal for the landlord to evict him because of the dogs.

Thinking that everything was settled, our client, who we will refer to as “C” was about to find out that while he was at work, someone purposely let the dogs out of the yard, and they were gone.  “C” called Amanda distraught, explaining that the dogs were no where to be found.  He posted flyers, drove around looking for them for days.  Amanda was able to post the dogs on social media platforms, hoping that someone would recognize the dogs.

Five days later, someone on Pawboost saw Biggie at the shelter.  “C” went to the shelter, confirming that it was Biggie! There were so many tears of joy mixed with sadness.  Happy that he found Biggie but sad that his second dog was still missing.  We learned that the dogs were the only connection to his mother who recently died of cancer. Before she died, he promised his mom that he would always take good care of her dogs.  Because “C” was confident that someone had intentionally released the dogs, knowing that he and the dogs were not wanted there, he decided that the safest place for Biggie was in boarding while he searched for a new place to live.  “C” has not given up hope in finding his other dog.

Now the real work started, finding a pet friendly rental for around $1500 per month.  With the help of a volunteer Carol, who is a real estate agent, he was able to find an apartment that he could afford that would allow Biggie. The process of finding this apartment was like finding a needle in a haystack. After a applying for many apartments, his application was approved, and he could move in immediately. But then there was  the first, last months rent + a pet deposit.  He had enough money to pay his rent, but had no savings.

Working full time, and doing a side Hussle on the weekend to earn extra money, he calculated that he would not be able to save up an extra $2000 to cover his move in expenses.  We decided to pay his move in expenses up front for him.  Volunteer Carol donated the amount to cover the pet deposit.  “C’ was so grateful that DDR paid for Biggie’s shelter fees, all his veterinary care, boarding, and helped him to avoid becoming homeless.

November 29th is Giving Tuesday, and if you agree with our mission to […]

1,811 Pets Assisted in 3rd Quarter

During the months of July, August and September, Downtown Dog Rescue provided assistance, services, and support for 1,811 family pets ( 1199 dogs and 612 cats)   Like most months, the majority of the requests for assistance involve DDR paying for a percentage to paying for 100% of veterinary care.  A total of 1052 pets received care ranging from vaccinations to chronic medical conditions, to life saving care. Spay and Neuter appointments are difficult to almost impossible to get for most of our families with pets.

In the third quarter, we provided 443 spay and neuter surgeries for cats and dogs.  Each month, we have at least two, and sometimes three mobile clinic days, where the cost to spay/neuter + vaccinate + microchip ranges from a cost of free to a copay of $20-$40.  For most of the surgeries, DDR is paying the majority of the cost to get more pets spayed and neutered.  In August, we began offering s/n services to the community of Huntington Park, and we are committed to go back every other month with a mobile clinic, in partnership with the Huntington Park Police Department.

DDR paying for City of Los Angeles pet redemptions is way down, we only paid for a total of 9 pet redemptions to send pets back home, and out of the shelter.  LAAS is now covering the cost of pet redemptions when someone is low income/homeless and can not afford to redeem their dog or cat from the shelter.

17 humane euthanasia services were provided for dogs that were brought to the South LA Shelter to be surrendered because their families could not afford to humanely euthanize their senior/terminally ill pet. Rather than surrendering to the shelter where they would likely sit in a cage suffering, DDR paid for the services so that the families could stay with their pet until the end of their life, surrounded by love and compassion. Families can call or text us for immediate support.

288 families with pets received a monthly supply of cat or dog food.  These are all clients who have registered in our program, have spayed/neutered their pets, and rely on DDR to feed their pets.  This does not include the hundreds of pounds of food that we pass out on a weekly basis to people with pets who are living on the street, in their vehicles, in trailers.  Often, when we meet them, they have no resources for their pet, and have lost connection to resources for themselves as well.

We had three cases of a notice to comply, the reason for being cited was lack of shelter or lack of containment.  In these cases, we provide a dog house, repair a simple fence or gate fix, while making sure that the pets in the household get spayed and neutered.  If the families want to join our maintenance program, and receive ongoing assistance, we offer that as well.

Counselors Amanda and Yesenia […]

SAVE THE DATE! October 30th

Join us for the return of our Bark for Life Fundraiser Event!

Save the date, October 30th from 10am to 3pm, Studio 4 Salon in Newport Beach, will be hosting a Halloween Costume fundraising event for Downtown Dog Rescue.  100% of the donations will go directly to DDR to support our work in the community, increasing access to spay and neuter, and rescuing overlooked dogs for City and County shelters.  Adoptable DDR dogs will be at the event, all dressed up, and ready to go to their forever homes.  Come out and spend a special day with all of the DDR volunteers and supporters, as we raise funds to support our work in 2023! We look forward to seeing you and your dog at the event!


Family Crisis

10 year old Shatto’s person, an elderly and disabled woman living on a fixed income, was feeling desperate and overwhelmed when she spoke to counselor Amanda.  She knew that she would not be able to afford an exam, tests, and treatment for whatever was making her dog sick.  Hoping Shatto would get better with rest, three weeks went by, but Shatto became weaker, losing so much weight, she looked like she might die.  Amanda listened, and assured her that she could help, but first, she would need to apply for a new program that DDR is part of called  AlignCare  Because she was receiving government benefits, and was means tested as living at our below the poverty line, she immediately qualified for this incredible benefit.

Shatto was so sick, a same day appointment was scheduled at Los Angeles Veterinary Center. Dr. Ramirez diagnosed her as having pyometra.  She needed an emergency surgery but not before she had a blood transfusion.  The following day, still weak, but stable enough to have surgery, the quote for all the care and hospitalization came to $1,913.32 which is a discounted rate that AlignCare veterinarians agree to as being part of the program.  AlignCare pays 80%, leaving Shatto’s family to pay $382.66, (20% of the quote).  Grateful for all the support, grateful that Shatto’s life would be saved, she agreed to pay the 20%.  In cases where the person cannot pay all or even any of the 20% co-pay, DDR pays on their behalf so that no pet ever suffers and or dies because the family could not come up with their co-pay.

This was a complicated and intense case, therefore Amanda had a lot of contact with Shatto’s family, and learned that she was never spayed, even though she had been required by Animal Control to get this done.  Apparently, some months back, there was a horrible situation where the police responded to a call for help at Shatto’s home. In the excitement and stress of the situation, she was accidentally shot by an officer.  When she had surgery to remove the bullet, she could not be spayed because she almost died.  Months later, for whatever reason, her family never followed through.  A lack of transportation, a lack of resources, and or family dynamics, potentially all played a part in getting Shatto to the point to where she was almost dead, again.

As counselors, our role is not to judge, or dwell on the mistakes of the past.  We get the facts, and try our best to understand the needs of each client and their pet(s).  When it came time for Shatto to leave the hospital, staying neutral and not judging became a real challenge for Amanda, as it would for any counselors who thought that a dog had been abandoned at the hospital.  Calling repeatedly, no answer, no response to texts, the veterinarian also tried reaching out to see when […]


Nina was brought to the South LA Shelter by a young man, in his early twenties, when both of our SIP counselors, Amanda and Yesenia, were on site. He was upset, felt overwhelmed, and really didn’t want to surrender his 7 month old puppy, who had been hit by a car. When she was hit, he did everything he could to save her, including taking her to the emergency hospital where Nina received an unsuccessful orthopedic surgery. He did end up taking her home, only to bring her back to the shelter a week later, but instead of surrendering her to the shelter, he surrendered Nina to DDR.

It would be easy to post sad or graphic photos of Nina, before and after her leg amputation in order to fundraise. We believe that by doing so, we would be silently promoting that she was neglected by someone who did not follow through with all of her necessary care that resulted in her losing her hind leg, but that does not tell the truth.

The truth is that she was loved, he had rescued her from a “bad situation” four months prior. He lived with his family in a second floor apartment, and worked full time. He tried, and he sincerely wanted the best for Nina, but his best wasn’t enough. Not during this point in his life. Judging would be easy to do, but attempting to understand the perspective of the young man, who tried his best is important. We have all fallen, failed, regretted an action, wished we could have done better.


Accepting this fact was difficult for him, as it was for our counselor Amanda, who had been his main point of contact. When Nina was picked up at the shelter a week later, he was crying, it was emotional. Reality was her leg was dead and needed to be removed immediately. As a counselor, you may intellectually understand that you are making a good decision, but watching someone experiencing a loss is still painful. We even question what’s best for the pet, never assuming that just because we are a rescue organization, we are superior and all know what’s best for a puppy like Nina.

How we as individuals experience cases like this often involves how closely we identify with the client, and the experience that the client is going through with their pet. If we have experienced a similar loss and have been traumatized, it’s inevitable that our understanding of a case can be very personal.

“Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love and the way we make sense of the world. It is the root of our deepest wounds.” Dr. Gabor Maté

Thanks to a wonderful medical foster, Noemi, Nina […]

Pet Support Space – Six Month Progress Report

We are happy to report that in the first six months of 2022, our Pet Support Space program provides services for 2,808 pets (1829 dogs and 979 cats)  Here is how the services ranked:

Veterinary Care – DDR provided a percentage up to 100% of the cost of care to prevent suffering, improve the lives of pets, and in some cases, provide life saving care. 1,658 pets received a wide range of  care, including wellness exams, vaccinations, surgeries and treatment for chronic infections/pain.

Spay + Neuter surgeries – A total of 824 were paid for by DDR. For these surgeries, DDR usually pays the costs, making it free to the pet guardian, or they have a small co-pay of $20-$40, and we take advantage of the LA City free spay and neuter voucher program.

282 pets received a monthly supply of pet food and for some, supplies such as a new dog bed, a crate, leash + collar thanks to all of your donations and a special thank you to The Urban Pet stores for their product donations.

We paid for some or all of the cost of a shelter redemption, which is when a pet gets lost, is picked up and brought to a shelter, but the low income family cannot afford the fees to get their pet out of the shelter, or if we didn’t pay, their pet would remain in the shelter until they could save up the money to pay the fees, taking up kennel space.

We paid for 19 senior pets to be humanely euthanized so that their families could hold them, stay with them in the room until their last breath. Paying for humane euthanasia for a terminally ill, suffering pet can be expensive, especially when someone lives on a fixed income of less than $1,000 per month.


We referred 4 legal cases and 2 dogs received new dog houses in order to comply with a notice from the Department of Animal Services.


Dogs like Lacy, a three month old puppy who was diagnosed with parvo, is alive today because one of our counselors was able to listen to Lacy’s symptoms, identify potential parvo, get a same day appointment at a partner hospital, and assist Lacy’s guardian in getting a variety of resources, including DDR to cover the cost of saving this sweet pup’s life. Without the support of our counselor, this Spanish speaking client would have been overwhelmed and it would have been unlikely that Lacy would have received the quality care that she did.

All of this work does not include the veterinary care, spay/neuter and many other resources provided to homeless […]

The Alameda Project – DDR’s Newest Outreach Area

With the start of a new year, we identified a new outreach area that we are calling “The Alameda Project” Located in an industrial area where Florence & Firestone intersects with Watts, for blocks there are homeless people living in RVs, some running, others are more of a shell for the resident and their pet to live in. While others live in makeshift tents made of pallets and other abandoned building materials. Huge heaps of trash take up two or three car spaces on the streets. This is definitely a place where no one should live, yet too many call home. It’s a dangerous existence for both the pets and the people who love them.


On February 8th, after hiring an additional outreach counselor, Gerardo, who would serve as the point of contact for this targeted project, and a general map of the area that we believed needed services, he drove up and down the streets lined with RVs. Full of pet food and other supplies, Gerardo began making contact with some of the people, who he would discover had pets, and lots of them. Most of the people with pets were suspicious at first, but when they had a conversation with Gerardo, and understood what we offered, everyone on that first day was grateful for the support and resources. He made a promise to come back several times a week for an extended period of time.

“Husky” and his father dog “D.O.G” after surgery

Three littles from one family on their way to get neutered

Gerardo went back, day after day, to form the relationships that would result in the following services that DDR provided in approximately 45 days.

Spays and Neuters = 8 surgeries all dogs
D.O.G. and his son Husky were the first two to be neutered. Followed by three male chihuahuas who all live with the same family, followed by another family of dogs; one male, and two females, of which one was in heat, and the other was pregnant.
Gerardo picks up the dogs in the morning, drives them in the DDR van to the animal hospitals, drops off, then picks up and delivers them back to their families at the end of the day. Sometimes, a very long day, as late as 10:30PM  DDR pays for all veterinary care.

Vaccinating pets on the street

Vaccinations – 46 cats and dogs

First we invited everyone living in their RVs to come to our free drive thru clinic, but when no one showed up, we decided to bring the clinic to the people with pets in their vehicles. We hired a veterinarian to vaccinate, deworm, and apply flea and tick meds. This was an opportunity to get all the puppies and kittens their first set […]

Lazy’s Life

This is Lazy, who recently passed away peaceful, in the arms of his person Melissa.  She described her life with this special little dog in her words, “He had a great life with me. Never left my side. I got him at 4 months old and had him for 13 1/2 years. We were there for each other. He brought me out of depression.”

It was back on August 23, 2011, when we were first contacted by Melissa.  At that point in time she was homeless, did not have the money to pay for vaccines and veterinary care, but loved her dog so much.  She was referred by another DDR client Tyrone, who had been referred to DDR by his friend Robin.  Yes, we had helped Tyrone, and his beautiful “Baby” who used to ride in a cart on his bike.  They were friends with Robin, who had a dog named Dotie, such a special girl.

Over the years, Melissa reached out for resources and services not only for Lazy, but was always referring new clients with dogs and cats to our program.  Of course Lazy was neutered, and whenever Melissa and Lazy met a new friend with a pet, they promoted DDR’s spay and neuter program.  Lazy was a patient of Dr. Vasquez at North Figueroa Animal Hospital.  Lazy always received compassionate care at this animal hospital, as did the countless pets that Melissa referred.  It was at that hospital that Melissa said her final goodbye to her best friend.  Holding his body as he took his last breathe.  He was sick, tired, and ready to cross the rainbow bridge.

Not a day goes by that Melissa doesn’t miss Lazy.  Her love for him will never stop.  All the DDR volunteers and staff are honored to have been in Lazy’s life, and to know Melissa, who will always be part of the DDR family.

Losing a pet is extremely painful, you don’t have to face this alone.  24/7 grief support is available to all through Pet Compassion Careline by calling 855-245-8214


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