When Genevieve Frederick returned from a visit to New York City in 2006, the images of homeless individuals living on the street with their pets would not leave her mind. She wondered how they found enough to eat.
At her home in Nevada, Genevieve called food banks that already served the homeless. She asked them if she could provide donated dog and cat food, and if they would they make it available to their clients. They answered with a resounding, “Yes!” That was the beginning of a long journey to start a non-profit and to grow it to become the only national organization of its kind.
Approximately 10 percent of homeless people in the United States are pet owners. For many of these people, dogs and cats offer unconditional love, companionship and protection on the streets. Sponsoring volunteers and veterinarians across the United States, Pets of the Homeless is the only national organization that provides food and basic medical care for these animals. Since it was founded in 2008, this mother-daughter run non-profit has provided veterinary care to more than 15,800 animals, and raised nearly 500 tons of food.
Pets of the Homeless believes strongly in the healing power of the human-animal bond. In the majority of cases that they see, homeless people spend 24/7 with their pets, making this mutually beneficial relationship that much stronger. “The homeless do not want their circumstances of homelessness to be a barrier to their pet’s wellness,” says Genevieve. “They care for their pets on limited resources so they themselves have less. Our task, nationwide, is to feed and provide basic emergency veterinary care to their pets and thus relieve the anguish and anxiety of the homeless who cannot provide for their pets.”
Today, thanks to the loving dedication of their volunteers, Pets of the Homeless offers various life changing programs. Their pet food donation sites help collect food and supplies for animals who live on the street, which are then distributed by food banks, soup kitchens and homeless shelters across the country. Nationwide wellness clinics offer free veterinary services – vaccinations, exams, medication, vouchers for sterilization surgeries, nail trimming and ear cleanings – to homeless and low-income pet parents. When the clinics are unequipped to provide appropriate care, clients are referred to the emergency care program where they can qualify for more extensive treatment.
But even with all these programs, Genevieve and her daughter, Renee Lowry, knew that the homeless cycle would continue unless there was a better way to get people off the streets. At the same time, they noticed that homeless pet parents were avoiding shelters because many do not allow pets unless they’re service animals. So, Pets of the Homeless began providing crates to shelters that would allow pets to stay with their guardians. They order the crates online, and pay for them to be shipped directly to participating shelters – saving people and animals from the street once and for all.
For this incredible mother-daughter duo, all of these philanthropic efforts are simply the right thing to do. “Every day that I come into the office, it fulfills my need to be of service to others – especially the pets that belong to the homeless,” says Genevieve. “Often it is just an ear to listen to their story, or a resource to another agency when we cannot help, or an emergency case for a pet that is injured or ill.”
To learn more about this organization, visit https://www.petsofthehomeless.org/about-us/history/.