By Langley Cornwell
Have you heard of them? How about Pets of the Homeless? This outstanding national nonprofit organization—known by both names—is a volunteer-based group intent on providing pet food and veterinary care to the homeless, transitional and less fortunate on a local level.
It all started when animal lover Genevieve Frederick noticed a homeless man with a dog. She wondered what the man fed the dog and whether it was nutritious. She wondered how the animal stayed healthy and what the man would do if the dog needed medical attention. After her initial research, Frederick decided to act on her findings. She turned her simple questions into a national organization with over 290 collection sites in the United States, several in Canada and one in Australia. Since 2008, Pets of the Homeless has collected over 76 tons of pet food and provided more than 2,500 animals with vaccinations and medical care.
While the number is a moving target, the Pets of the Homeless website reports that approximately 3.5 million Americans are homeless. Of that 3.5 million, between five and ten percent have pets. That’s a lot of hungry dogs and cats! Moreover, studies show that many homeless people are in a transitional stage and are without a place to live for only a short period of time. Finding temporary housing or a rent subsidy is difficult for those with pets.
Pets of the Homeless wants to help underprivileged people keep their pets with them, well-fed and cared for. They believe in the healing power of companion animals and of the strength of the human/animal bond. Another important consideration is that they want to keep homeless people’s pets out of overcrowded animal shelters.