This is What ‘Doing Something’ Looks Like

This is What ‘Doing Something’ Looks Like

This Is What ‘Doing Something’ Looks Like

Robert Smith is disabled and lives on the streets of San Francisco with his three-year-old mixed breed dog Colby. They’re together nearly every minute of every day and stable companions to each other.

In January, the SPCA referred Smith to Feeding Pets of the Homeless when he told them Colby needed help. The white pup with blue eyes had hot spots on the side of his face and blisters on his ears. His wounds were bleeding and infected.

A case  with Feeding Pets of the Homeless helped Colby get an exam and wound care. He received updated vaccinations, antibiotics and medication for the painful infection, and an Elizabethan collar to prevent scratching.

Feeding Pets of the Homeless contributed $638 toward Colby’s care and today he is a happy, healthy pup and an important helpmate to his owner.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development point in time count found that more than 582,000 people were homeless in January 2022. Numbers for 2023 have not yet been released. Up to 25% of those people have pets.

Feeding Pets of the Homeless is the first national non-profit to provide pet food and care for the thousands of companion animals of those experiencing homelessness. Since 2008, the organization has worked in every U.S. state to provide food, and routine and emergency veterinary care to more than 26,000 animals that homeless pet parents wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

Funded solely through donations and grants, Feeding Pets of the Homeless has provided nearly 900 tons of pet food and supplies distributed thru local food banks, soup kitchens and boots-on-the-ground volunteers to ensure pets are not hungry.

While the non-profit is based in neighboring Nevada, more than 60 percent of the organization’s cases come from California. In 2022, the agency helped 1,000+ pets here and paid more than $665,000 in emergency veterinarian care, with an average veterinary invoice of $657.

Advocates for the homeless say the hardest part of their survival may be connection, being seen and acknowledged by others.

“Sometimes a stray will approach a homeless person and within a matter of minutes, almost magically, the homeless person feels connected, no longer so invisible,” says Feeding Pets of the Homeless Founder and President Genevieve Frederick. “The animal-human bond is especially strong for people experiencing homelessness because those animals are with their people 24/7.”

The friendship is priceless.

“Companion animals reduce isolation and can provide hope. Sometimes the pets are the only things that keep people going,” she says.

Most shelters, transitional and supportive housing programs, though, turn away pets. As the animals provide comfort, companionship, protection and love, pet owners frequently choose to stay on the streets rather than give up their furry family members in favor of stable housing.

In fact, many people who are homeless arrive in that situation bringing their pets.

Another homeless individual named Michelle has lived on the streets in La Jolla for seven years, but has had her loyal companion, Sidney, a chihuahua, for 11 years.

Michelle called Feeding Pets of the Homeless and was able to get care for Sidney when he started having seizures.

A case  for Feeding Pets of the Homeless performed an intake, verified the pairs’ homelessness, and got them pre-approved for an examination at a partner veterinary hospital.

The doctor discovered Sidney had severe dental issues. Diagnostics, dental cleaning and extractions, comfort care and medications cost about $1,900.

While medical care is the highest dollar action Feeding Pets of the Homeless performs, as its name suggests, most clients just need help providing proper nutrition for their pets.

Ms. Frederick emphasizes that many owners share their own meager meals, which isn’t always healthy.

“Parents of children or parents of pets,” the vibrant retiree from San Jose says, “want the best for their loved ones.”

In addition to assisting those experiencing homelessness, through generous donations, Feeding Pets of the Homeless is also able to serve low-income families with basic exams and vaccination clinics. And while they don’t specifically target homeless veterans like Smith, the veterans’ community is strong and serving those who have served is especially touching for some organization volunteers.

The organization is always looking for monetary donations, but there are other ways to give. Provide a place for your customers and others in your community to drop off pet food and pet supplies.

Volunteer to help coordinate a pop-up clinic in your neighborhood. While buying food for your own pet, throw an extra bag in your shopping cart. Even a small monthly food donation is a great way to give tangible help to pets in need.

This is What ‘Doing Something’ Looks Like – California Business Journal (

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The views expressed on this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Feeding Pets of the Homeless, and Feeding Pets of the Homeless hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.