I often think that having a dog would be a great comfort to me if I was forced to live on the street. So when I see a pup curled up next to someone who appears to be homeless, I have mixed feelings. I think it must be a benefit for the person but I worry about them both. I worry that the dog, just like the person, may not be getting enough food, water or medical attention. And I know that having a dog can be a liability on the street, since most shelters and other services have no place for them.
This week is a perfect time to do something to help the homeless and their pets. Each year, one week before Thanksgiving (Nov. 15-21), the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness co-sponsor National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. During this week, a number of schools, communities and cities take part in a nationwide effort to bring greater awareness to the problems of hunger and homelessness. This year, Feeding Pets of the Homeless is joining their efforts to draw attention to the pets of the homeless. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, there are an estimated 3.5 million homeless persons in the United States, and the number is increasing. NCH has also estimated that up to 10 percent of homeless people have at least one pet. For those with pets, finding pet food, shelter and other assistance is more difficult.
Feeding Pets of the Homeless has more than 200 volunteer/collection sites in a number of cities across the country. Donations of pet food and pet supplies are needed. The organization has more than 100 distributing organizations in place that have agreed to offer the pet food to the homeless and needy. They include local food banks, food pantries, homeless shelters and soup kitchens.
In addition, help for many homeless with pets comes from free clinics that provide a basic check up, vaccines, medicines, flea and tick treatments, spay or neuter, along with pet food and other pet products. These clinics depend on grants to licensed veterinarians from Feeding Pets of the Homeless and the generosity of many of the veterinarian’s distributors who donate products. Grants are made possible from donations from the public to Feeding Pets of the Homeless.
Find a list of pet food collection sites in your community. If there isn’t a collection site near you, contact Feeding Pets of the Homeless to learn how to start one.