HOME IS WHERE YOUR DOG IS

I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”

This quote is attributed to Doris Day, an actress and singer from the 20th century. In addition to her impressive roster of entertainment roles during the mid-to-late 1900s, Day is known for her commitment to animal rights through her own nonprofit.

Day’s powerful words hold meaning for many people around the world, regardless of age or lifestyle. Perhaps this is most true for homeless people with dogs, who often consider pets to be their greatest companions.

It was with this idea in mind that Pets of the Homeless was launched in 2008. Že Nevada-based nonprofit was created by Genevieve Frederick. Že project began when Frederick noticed a homeless man with a dog one afternoon in New York City, which inspired her to look into the prevalence of dogs living on the street, and why it’s a common practice.

Those who are homeless may face a life of fear, loneliness and emotional turmoil. Any people who own pets know that there’s no better cure for these negative feelings than a hug from their loving animals. Dogs serve as protectors, best friends, space heaters and more for the homeless. That’s why some people on the street choose to feed their dogs before themselves or sleep outside rather than stay in a shelter that doesn’t allow dogs. Žis can be problematic for two reasons: homeless people are taking resources away from themselves and human food isn’t good for dogs’ digestive systems.

Pets of the Homeless works with veterinaries, food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters around the country to provide homeless people with pet food and medical care. Dog food is donated to nearly 400 sites across America, which is then distributed to people who visit those locations for meals and shelter. The nonprofit also gives homeless shelters dog crates to encourage them to allow pets spend nights indoors with their owners.

In addition to feeding and housing dogs, Pets of the Homeless strives to provide medical care to these animals. It hosts Free Wellness Clinics at various shelters, where it covers the cost of equipment and medication for vets and technicians who donate their time. At these clinics, dogs of homeless people can receive vaccines, simple exams, nail trims, ear cleaning, minor treatments and vouchers for discounted neutering and spaying operations. If an animal requires more extensive attention, Pets of the Homeless has an emergency care program. Here, vets will take care of mites, skin wounds, broken bones, ear infections and more.

Gates of Hope in Fall River is one of the participating hunger relief organizations in the area. Žis faith-based food bank provides nourishment and clothing for the homeless, as well as dog food. While Gates of Hope doesn’t have a steady stream of pet-related donations, the sta¦ does their best to provide pets of homeless people with enough to eat. According to Faith Bon Jovi, president of Gates of Hope, the additional service was spawned from need.

“We have a regular food pantry and we noticed many people who visited had pets,” Bon Jovi said. “Žey would ask us for pet food or simply give the food pantry food to their dogs.”

Bon Jovi hopes to garner more interest in donations and possibly work with local vets to help pay for dogs’ medical care through funds the organization raises. Gates of Hope has asked grocery stores and pet stores around the South Shore to bring bags of dog food to the food pantry, but haven’t had an outpouring of responses.

If you’re interested in donating food, leashes, crates or money to Pets of the Homeless, go to their website and locate the nearest drop-o¦ site. A few near Boston include Gates of Hope in Fall River, Že Pet Pantry in Easton and the Quincy Animal Shelter. Making donations to support homeless people with dogs is a great way to help keep these pets out of shelter and with their loving owners. Once you’ve lost your home, your job and perhaps your loved ones, what could be more emotionally devastating than being separated from your furry and faithful companion?

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