It’s the holiday season and sadly not everyone has the opportunity to have a home to share with their cherished family pets. People experiencing homelessness must sometimes make heart-wrenching decisions between being housed versus keeping their animals. Far too often, pet owners who lose a place to live can only find housing that does not allow pets. This places them in the impossible situation where they must decide to accept the housing and relinquish their pets, or keep their pets but be unhoused.
As part of Los Angeles County’s holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to helping people experiencing homelessness, DACC was compelled to develop a strategy to help people experiencing homelessness and their pets stay together. The bond with a pet may give a person in need of housing the emotional strength to carry on during such a difficult time, and losing that pet could be even further devastating to their emotional well-being. We believe strongly that pets should remain with the families that love and want them.
To assist pet owners experiencing homelessness, our trained staff counsel them about options for them and their pets. Sometimes all a person needs is a dog crate or grooming for a dog in order to be welcomed in a temporary living space. Other times, referral to County services can help bridge the gap. If these interventions cannot resolve the situation, we may temporarily house and care for the pet(s) while the family finds stable, pet-friendly housing.
Yvette Garcia was faced with this difficult decision when domestic violence caused her to experience homelessness. Her dogs helped get her through the crisis and she could not feel safe unless she had them by her side. The temporary shelter she found for herself could not accommodate her dogs, so she reached out to our department for help. Our compassionate employees at our Lancaster Animal Care Center made arrangements to temporarily care for her dogs.
Once Yvette was sure that her dogs were safe and cared for, she was able to focus on taking steps to rebuild her life. Our Lancaster team enjoyed being able to provide care to these beloved dogs, but the best part was being able to reunite them with Yvette once she had secured permanent housing for all of them. You can see a brief video about Yvette’s story here: https://vimeo.com/377400704/50982841d3?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=
Thanks to Los Angeles County’s commitment to helping people experiencing homelessness, DACC has been able to help hundreds of pets and their owners. Families belong together, and pets are an equal part of our families. I am proud of the work our team does each and every day to help people and pets in LA County.
Happy holidays to you and your family!
PS – I had the honor of being interviewed by award-winning photojournalist Tish Lampert about the many programs offered by DACC. Please click the below link to her podcast to hear more about how DACC helps animals and people in our communities: