The “dog mom” or “pet parent” archetype has gotten a lot of flack in recent years, garnering eye rolls for the ridiculous nature of comparing a furry friend to a human child. But those who love their dogs like family know that there is something real behind the sentiment.
Just like any other members of our immediate family, people build communities around their dogs, find purpose and belonging in their care, and benefit greatly from the unconditional love afforded by a canine companion.
So it makes it that much more difficult when folks facing obstacles — like housing insecurity, hospitalization, or deployment — need to find a new way to take care of their furry friends.
Luckily, other animal-loving helpers have dedicated their livelihoods to helping others navigate these challenges and keep themselves and their pups in safe conditions.
Good News: Meet the Organizations Helping Dog Owners During Challenging Situations
Project Street Vet: Homelessness
Project Street Vet is a nonprofit that provides free veterinary care, treatment, and support to the pets of individuals experiencing homelessness or housing vulnerability. You may have even seen founder Dr. Kwane Stewart on TikTok!
Stewart had been doing this work for over a decade before starting the charity in 2020. He walks areas of high homelessness, like Skid Row in Los Angeles, looking for pets and pet parents in need of care. The organization prioritizes a no-judgment approach, ensuring that pets and people are assisted with no questions asked.
This assistance includes free exams, vaccines, flea and tick medications, supplies, and even emergency help. More assistance is offered by volunteer veterinary teams for follow-ups and additional care.
And these pets mean the world to the clients Project Street Vet serves. On the organization’s website, a number of Project Street Vet stories bring the nonprofit's mission to life.
In one instance, a man named Mike said he’d cure his dachshund's blindness before he’d cure his own colon cancer. Another woman, Karen, was saving up to provide her dog Buddy with a surgery until Project Street Vet stepped in to perform the procedure for free.
“The human-animal bond is strong, but the bond that homeless individuals have with their pets may be the strongest,” Project Street Vet’s website reads. “Beyond providing companionship, socialization, protection, and love, many pets of people experiencing homelessness serve as a lifeline and constant source of motivation during stressful times.”
Although Project Street Vet primarily serves people and pets in California, the team hopes to expand these programs in California and beyond, calling upon street vet volunteers to serve these communities.
Praline’s Backyard: Domestic Abuse
Another organization supporting pets and their parents is Praline’s Backyard, a cage-free and anxiety-free pet boarding facility being developed in Snellville, Georgia.
Owner Orazie Cook founded Praline’s Backyard to provide thoughtful boarding and training — but also to care for the pets of domestic abuse survivors.
Cook grew up in a household where she was subject to domestic abuse, and her childhood cocker spaniels were her greatest refuge. Now, Praline’s Backyard (named after her current dog, Praline Pecan) aims to give survivors hope and their dogs a safe haven.
The Praline’s Backyard Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the organization, helping to alleviate the barriers to leaving an abusive environment by providing temporary pet housing, food, and veterinary care to the dogs of survivors of domestic abuse.
The foundation also plans to fund programs that train dogs to serve as emotional support and service dogs for survivors of domestic abuse, disabled veterans, and autistic community members.
“Dogs, like humans, know what it feels like to be comfortable,” the Praline’s Backyard website reads. “The knowledge that their dog will be cared for may provide survivors the encouragement and support to take that much-needed first step into their journey to secure safe and secure housing.”
Dogs On Deployment: Military Deployment
Another situation where pet owners may need long-term care for their dogs is during military deployment. Dogs on Deployment is a nonprofit that provides service members with a national network of volunteers who are willing to care for their pets during service commitments.
The organization also grants financial assistance for military pet owners during times of emergency, promotes responsible, life-long pet ownership — and most of all, keeps beloved animals out of shelters while their owners are away.
“Military members nationwide confront a multitude of problems during their careers. The last thing they need to worry about is their pet’s care during their service commitments,’ the Dogs on Deployment website reads.
“Our pets found refuge in the loving care of foster homes so their owners could stay focused on their mission.”
A version of this article was originally published in The Do Good Edition of the Goodnewspaper.
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