Recently my pals at Indy Pit Crew joined up with The Pourhouse, an amazing organization who attends to the needs of the homeless in Indianapolis. Many of the residents of the homeless encampment have pets, and Indy Pit Crew has been providing leashes, collars, vaccinations and arranging for the animals to get fixed, including transporting them to the vet. A recent donation of dry dog food allowed the residents to receive kibble for their pups instead of having to share their own meager rations.
As an aside, I’m terribly disappointed this effort started after I left Indy. Pets and homelessness… two of my most dear causes. I would have loved to be involved. Sigh.
Anyway, this reminds me of an encounter I had with a homeless man in Indy which changed my attitude about “homeless” pets. The man was panhandling on the median near a busy mall and he had a lovely dog with him who was just as happy as can be. I don’t recall the exact exchange, but the man was very polite. My husband and I wanted to help, so I handed him some money and asked him to make sure his dog was cared for too. He said “He always eats first.”
Ever heard the saying “home is where your heart is”? Well, that dog didn’t have a “house”, but he certainly had a “home” with that man.
My friend Nina, an Indy Pit Crew board member, mentioned that many of the homeless in this encampment aren’t opposed to seeking help from a shelter – but the shelters don’t allow pets. These animals are their family. So they choose to face the elements so they can keep their best friend by their side. This dedication to their friends should be a lesson to us all.
Some would suggest to take these animals to the shelter too, so they could find families with houses. You know, that’s a human requirement, not an animal one. Living in the country has taught me a lot about animals – frequently you’ll see livestock laying in the dirt, and seeking basic shelter from sun and rain. They don’t need air conditioning. They don’t require a fluffy bed. I put some hay in my goat’s pen and a tarp over their food bin and they are content. Frankly, us humans don’t need those things either, although we don’t have a thick fur coat to get us through the night.
If my dogs could talk, I’m fairly certain they would say that the house is nice, and the air conditioning is nice, and the couch is VERY nice, but most of all they like being LOVED. And the animals in this encampment already have that.
I really hope the city can come to some arrangement where the animals are allowed in the shelter with their owners. I’m sure Indy Pit Crew and the other animal welfare organizations in the city would be happy to ensure the animals are properly vaccinated and fixed before entry. Heck, I bet we could even find the money to ensure each animal had a secure cage while in residence.
It’s only through innovative thinking and partnership that we are going to solve complex, multi-dimensional issues like human and pet homelessness. I’m proud to know folks who are involved in such a radical transformation of lives.
Donations to the Indy Pit Crew homeless outreach can be by contacting them via email.