Most of us have seen homeless people on the streets, many accompanied by their non human companions (pets), especially dogs. Their pets often are the oxygen and reason for living for homeless people.
Pet Journalist, Caroline Zambrano and her husband have been volunteering for Pets in The Park for a few years. It’s a charity that provides vet care, food and other support for the pets of people struggling with homelessness. During their volunteering, they quickly came to realise that by caring for the beloved companion animals they were also having a positive impact on their owners, who often need someone to talk to. These are Caroline’s story and the stories of the people they’ve gotten to know.
A few years ago, my husband and I began searching for a cause to be involved in together. It would not only have some meaning for us, but also teach our children about compassion and gratefulness. We came across Pets in The Park.
This is Michael and his dog, Angel, who was rescued from a life of dog fighting. This ‘angel with a tail’ become a lifeline for Michael and his wife, who has been battling cancer for a long time. Michael said his wife refers to Angel as her daughter. Angel sleeps with her and follows her wherever she goes. If she gets up at night, not feeling well, Angel nudges Michael awake to help her. Michael said, “Angel knows her purpose. It’s to give love.”
Then there’s the lovely Pam, who has been attending the clinic with her two dogs for a long time. She had a horrific childhood (which resulted in going deaf in one ear) and a very hard life, including living for a year under a bridge. She suffered so many tragedies, I’m in awe of her strength and resilience.
One Sunday clinic, she showed up in tears and was really struggling with what was happening in her life. While other volunteers took care of her dogs, I sat with Pam and we eventually started talking about how her dogs need her and that we at Pets in The Park want to see her at every clinic.
Pam wiped away her tears and said, “My dogs are everything to me. I’d be dead without them. That’s why Pets in The Park is like family because you help me to take care of them.”
And Pets in The Park certainly takes care of so many more animals! I love seeing the dogs walking up to the registration table wagging their tails and looking forward to their vet check-up. Hubby helps to weigh the larger dogs and is quick to hold an umbrella over a consult table when it’s raining.
I have seen first-hand the positive impact Pets in The Park has on people and pets struggling with homelessness. They rely on each other and not give up on life.
Master Bowie has donated an additional 10% of the total $$ collected from the Give a Leg-Up project to charities that help The Homeless and Their Pets. The charities are Pets in The Park and Pets of The Homeless Australia.
Thank you Caroline Zambrano for the featured story.