Salt + Light seasons efforts with dog food donations

Salt + Light seasons efforts with dog food donations

As a result of partnering with a national non-profit, Visalia-based Salt + Light plans to accept dog food donations for the pets of displaced individuals

VISALIA – After realizing how much the displaced people of the Valley love their pets, Salt + L (S+L) — a local nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals experiencing homelessness — has decided to join forces with the Feeding Pets of the Homeless network to ensure these animals can get the food they need.

According to Rachel Trigueiro, S+L’s director of development, the nonprofit’s mission is to “cultivate community and belonging with folks experiencing homelessness or those at risk of homelessness,” a goal which extends not only to our neighbors, but to their pets as well.

“A lot of times, we believe that homelessness is due to a catastrophic loss of family, whether that is something that has been done to them or something they’ve chosen,” Triguerio said. “Oftentimes these individuals feel cut off as they don’t have that support…their pets are their only consistent thing and they don’t want to leave their side.”

This strong bond between man and pet is why S+L’s flagship project, Neighborhood Village, plans to accommodate pets — albeit with a few rules and regulations in place — who can help provide support for their humans as they try to get back on their feet.

“It’s gonna take effort and a whole new way of learning how to live and take care of themselves,” Triguerio said. “A lot of times, the folks that we help get a dignified job and earn dignified wages, the first thing they’ll do with their paychecks is take care of their pets.”

Triguerio went on to share an analogy explaining the relationship between owner and pet as being similar to a parent. In a sense, she said “as they teach you on an airplane, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, even though your initial instinct is to put it on your kid,” which is what she feels these individuals do for their furry friends.

“For these individuals, their pets are the one thing that’s always been there for them at the end of a hard day,” she said. “Because of this, they’ll sacrifice their own wellbeing to get their pets groomed or get them fed.”

The latter of which being the key reason why S+L has begun to work with the Feeding Pets of the Homeless network, doing so after Leann Lo — their grant manager — applied with the program, which has since allowed them to become an official donation site.

salt-and-light-pet-food1-3-24-kg
Salt and Light pet food storage. (Kenny Goodman)
“We’ve gotten a lot of great partnerships in Visalia that have…donated dog food (which is) something we try to have at our food trucks but always run out of,” Triguerio said. “As a part of this program, we’re now a dog food site, (so now) on Saturdays…volunteers will come in and use scoopers and separate our supply into smaller, quart-sized bags, for our neighbors experiencing homelessness to easily take back to their home.”

As stated by Genevieve Frederick, president and founder of Feeding Pets of the Homeless, in a recent press release, it is estimated that one in four homeless and disadvantaged people have a pet, which she feels makes homelessness become even more difficult as it forces them to “choose between their pet and a roof over their head.”

S+L’s Neighborhood Village doesn’t just differ from a majority of homeless shelters with its allowance of pets — the project even has plans for a communal dog park — it also takes a bit of a different approach when it comes to housing displaced individuals, as future residents will have to pay to stay there.

“People will have to pay rent, it’s not a free housing situation,” Trigueiro said. “It’s meant for (those who want) to invest in their own healing…they’ll need to really have skin in the game, but not everyone’s ready for that.”

Residents will be chosen through a concentrated effort made by Salt + Light in tandem with multiple agencies in the county, who will help the nonprofit identify individuals based on factors such as how long they’ve experienced homelessness, such as whether they’re a veteran or not, and various other parameters. Once selected, the formerly displaced individuals can stay in the village “forever, until the end of their life” due to it being permanent housing.

In the meantime, both future residents and those who may not be a right fit for the village once it opens this spring, can take advantage of having steady access to food for their pets. Advantaged members of the community can help to ensure this valued resource is made available to their neighbors by dropping off donations at Salt + Light’s office, located at 6943 Pershing Ave. in Visalia.

“I’m so thrilled to partner with (Feeding Pets of the Homeless) because dog food has always been a consistent thing that our development team is trying to round up, so (this partnership) really feels like a great way to start the year,” Trigueiro said. “They are a really successful organization so I’m really hopeful that this will bring a consistent outpouring of dog food for our neighbors.”

Feeding Pets of the Homeless is the first national nonprofit organization that provides a network focused entirely on feeding and providing emergency veterinary care to pets of people experiencing homelessness. The organization raises funds to provide food and supplies, emergency veterinary care, crates for homeless shelters and vaccinations at wellness clinics.

For information on how to become a donation site or contribute, call Feeding Pets of the Homeless at 775-841-7463 or visit PetsoftheHomeless.org.

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Disclaimer

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.