Seattle Humane seeing steady pet surrenders due to lack of pet-friendly homeless shelters

Seattle Humane seeing steady pet surrenders due to lack of pet-friendly homeless shelters

Seattle Humane has resources to help but ultimately, families are faced with the decision of whether to surrender their pets
Madison Wade

SEATTLE — The story of one shelter dog is calling attention to a bigger problem: a lack of housing and shelter for families experiencing homelessness who also have pets.

“We are a last resort for folks, and that is why we’re here- as a last resort,” said Julie McCabe, the director of Seattle Humane’s Pet Resource Center.

McCabe said she is seeing pet surrenders every day, with many from families on the brink of homelessness or other housing issues.

“Tons of requests from people in really, really horrendous situations,” McCabe said.

One story of a dog named Copper is calling attention to this issue.

According to the post, “She’d spent most of her life with the same person, but they lost their housing and didn’t want to put her through the stress of living out of their car.”

Seattle Humane has help for families like Copper’s.

They have their pet food bank on site, which is free for people who need it most.

They also have a temporary foster program that helps hold dogs for 90 days in foster care.

“We treat every client that comes this way with utmost respect, and do our best to not judge them for their situation. And they are here because they are doing the best thing,” McCabe said.

Another organization called Feeding Pets for the Homeless helps homeless pets who need food, veterinary care, wellness, veteran pet support, and crates at homeless shelters.

“Nobody wants to be on the streets. I mean, nobody wants to be homeless,” said Genevieve Frederick, the founder and president of Feeding Pets of the Homeless.

Clients with Feeding Pets of the Homeless can call their organization to find free care at animal hospitals and veterinary clinics.

They have an online resource guide to help people find pet-friendly shelters.

“In King County, last year, we treated 10 pets that were injured or ill at a cost of over $3,000,” Frederick said.

In the last five years, they say Washington was one of their top four states and they helped over 400 pets costing $192,000.

“Something that is very important to me, that these pets don’t get separated from their humans because they need each other,” Frederick said.

Frederick said many factors led to this problem.

“Housing is a problem because the rents are so high. We see a lot of our clients are experiencing domestic violence, and where they’re living in a shelter if they will allow that pet. And we’re helping them that way as well,” she said.

Mary’s Place in King County does accept pets, but at the moment, their shelters are full.

“Our shelters are full beyond capacity. We receive 50-60 calls each day from families with children looking for shelter and are only able to offer a space to just 1 or 2. That said, if there is space, it’s available for families with pets.” Mary’s Place told KING 5 in a statement.

Compass Housing Alliance also shared a statement to KING 5, “All of Compass Housing Alliance’s 24/7 enhanced shelters welcome ADA-compliant service animals. Separately, in our affordable housing buildings, we’ve partnered with Seattle Humane in the recent past to provide special pet/owner training and health care for animals.”

Seattle Dogs Homeless Program also provides assistance to those experiencing homelessness. They serve around 150 animals a month.

“We provide food, leashes, collars, treats, pet beds to make their lives easier and keep the people together with their loved companion. We use donations to pay for vet care at Greenwood hospital for those in need so that pets experiencing homelessness can live a long healthy life with their owner, regardless of housing status. We also offer foster and boarding for pets whose owners have medical issues requiring a longer stay,” Seattle Dog Homeless Program said in a statement.

This organization has also experienced difficulty referring people to shelters that have space and also accept pets.

“Unfortunately there aren’t many options when referring people to shelter, there is only what is available at the time and many times is not appropriate to the person’s needs when we come by,” Seattle Dog Homeless Program said.

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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.