There are many resources for helping homeless dogs. Shelters, rescues, fosters and all sorts of groups exist to help unwanted dogs find loving homes.
But what about dogs that belong to homeless people? They may not have a house, but they have a human who loves them — and yet those humans are often denied shelter at homeless shelters if they have a canine.
Sadly, that often means that homeless individuals with pets have to brave the harshest conditions in order to stay together. But a group in Arizona has seen their need and is responding with a solution that seems almost perfect.
“Almost Home Dog Hotel” is the result of coordinated efforts by the City of Phoenix, Community Bridges, Hunkapi Farms and Midwestern University.
The farm in Scottsdale has offered up enough stalls to be converted to house a total of 15 dogs with displaced owners.
“One of the many barriers to [homeless people] seeking treatment or getting into housing was if they had a pet,” Terra Schaad, executive director of Hunkapi programs, told KTVK-TV. “We knew that we could answer that call.
“It seemed like a no-brainer that we knew we had the community here to love and support the dogs. We’re all about community here, and if we can help a need in our community, then we are going to step up and answer.”
The program is intended for those who want to enter rehab or receive assistance but are worried about the fate of their loyal pets.
“For those with addiction issues, we feel they will stick to their rehab program since they will get to visit their dog daily while working in the program,” Michael Peterson-Incorvaia with the office of Phoenix Councilwoman Laura Pastor told AZ Big Media.
“This is the team making it happen,” Pastor posted on Facebook in December. “I teach my staff to think outside the box. After a year of planning we are breaking ground on our Almost Home Dog Hotel to assist homeless people.
“Their dogs will live here while they get back on their feet. This project is privately funded no tax payer dollars used.
“I would like to especially thank Terra Schaad and Dr Karen Johnson, two incredible women who never say no when we ask for help.”
Of course, one of the big factors besides room and board that comes up with dog care is medical costs — a factor that can be prohibitive to owners without some sort of financial backup. Thanks to the students and doctors at Midwestern University, veterinary support will be covered, too.
“I look at this as an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to Hunkapi’s important mission,” Dr. Thomas K. Graves of Midwestern University said. “Dogs need medical care. This is an opportunity to help these animals live longer and healthier lives through disease surveillance and treatment and prevention of infectious disease.
“The relationship with a dog might be the most positive and constant relationship in a homeless person’s life. Those dogs are truly valuable. The problem of homelessness is so heartbreaking, and every time I see a dog with a homeless person on the street, I am struck by how closely that person and the dog are bonded.”
Those involved in the hotel, which is slated to open in April, recognize the importance of the relationship between owner and dog and the need to keep them together.
“We can keep their dog there and they will be in safe keeping,” Schaad told KTVK. “They can be assured they’ll get their dogs back once they are back on their feet.”
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