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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that 63% of households have at least one pet. When these people fall on hard times and are forced to move, finding affordable housing for themselves and their pet proves to be almost impossible. Just like us, many of the clients that we serve say that they would rather live on the streets, or in their car, than give up their beloved companion. Thus, many do. The San Diego County Regional Task Force on the Homeless estimated that over 8,500 people were homeless in San Diego in January 2014.
As part of our merger with the San Diego Humane Society, PAWS San Diego now offers a Homeless Outreach Service. By partnering with human service organizations that support the homeless, we are able to provide pet food and support to help these families keep their pets.
This Thanksgiving, PAWS San Diego partnered with the San Diego Rescue Mission to serve the homeless. As these individuals and families lined up for their Thanksgiving Congregate Meal, many of them had their best friend in tow. PAWS San Diego’s dedicated volunteers and staff were on hand to make sure these furry friends were taken care of while their human companions enjoyed their warm, Thanksgiving meal. Most of these very loved, four legged friends are not used to being apart from their human companion, so we made sure both humans and pets were reassured that everything was going to be ok. Over 50 pets were walked, cuddled and taken care of, and they all left with pet food, supplies, smiles and wagging tails.
The reunion between pets and their people had to be seen to be believed. It was the best Thanksgiving gift we could have given ourselves and perhaps to these pet families too. It was priceless.
Dear PAWS San Diego Family,
It is with great pride that I announce the next big milestone for our organization. After 21 years of supporting needy pet families in our community, we have grown our wings and are ready to fly.
Our mission to provide pet services and support to low-income pet families who are seniors, chronically ill and disabled remains stronger than ever. Our in-home delivery program of pet food and services is hugely successful and still growing. The Pantry program that we launched last year is thriving and has already outgrown the space we have. We are ready to meet the needs of more veterans, the homeless and those in temporary economic crisis. We have plans to set up new programs, including one for victims of domestic violence.
With a common goal to keep every pet with their family, our merger with the San Diego Humane Society was inevitable. We quickly realized that our missions were aligned and that we could do so much more together.
On September 1, 2014, PAWS San Diego will officially merge with the San Diego Humane Society. We plan to unite our teams and resources to expand safety net programs to help more pet owners keep their pets. Under the leadership of Dr. Gary Weitzman, President & CEO of the San Diego Humane Society, we are looking forward to growing our programs here in San Diego and beyond.
The PAWS San Diego staff are an integral part of the merger and will continue in their respective roles. Our programs and services will also continue as normal and volunteers will be unaffected. Contributions designated to the PAWS program will be directed to help the pet families we serve.
Thank you for your continued support as we make a bigger difference, helping more people keep their pets. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
With much gratitude and best wishes,
The PAWS Pantry is a supplemental food program that assists the needs of low-income pet families and other non-profit human service organizations in San Diego. At a time when so many households are forced to cut corners to meet even the most basic of life’s necessities, oftentimes it is the pets that bear the burden. Something as simple as removing the challenge of resourcing pet food can be the difference between keeping an animal at home or having that same animal taken to a rescue or shelter. With the help of partner groups like The Petco Foundation and the Rescue Bank, as well as individual donations, we are able to supply high quality food to those most in need in order to ensure that these vulnerable pet families stay together.
But it is not just low-income pet families that benefit from this program. From preparation to distribution, the PAWS Pantry engages and assists many individuals (human and animal) in our community. Volunteer groups like Veterans Village of San Diego, Oasis Clubhouse, and Employment and Community Options help us take large bags of kibble and break them down into smaller individual portions for distribution. The groups come in anywhere from once a week to once a month, each time gaining meaningful work experience while contributing a valuable service to our organization.
After the food is bagged, it can be picked up at the PAWS San Diego office or at one of our monthly distribution centers with proof of low-income status. Families with dogs receive an 8-pound bag of kibble and those with cats get a 3.5-pound bag. Depending on the size of the pet and pet family this can help out for a week or a month, and we allow extra bags under certain circumstances. We also educate on the benefits of spaying and neutering animals and provide low-cost referrals for those in need. We are currently looking for dedicated individuals who might be interested in volunteering at a PAWS Pantry site. Locations and dates/times are flexible depending on your preference and availability. Please contact Lauren at outreach@pawssandiego for more information.
Surplus supplies of dry food are distributed in bulk to local rescue groups and shelters. Rescue groups like The Rescue House, Labradors and Friends, and The Barking Lot have all come to our office to load food supplies in their trucks to take back to their animals. Taking the burden of sourcing a food supply away from these groups, even if just momentarily, allows them to focus their efforts on finding forever homes for the animals.
Since its launch in November of 2012, the PAWS Pantry has helped thousands of pet families with food for their animals. We could not be more thrilled with the success of this program and the unintended but wonderful impact it has made on the greater San Diego community. For more information about PAWS San Diego’s programs, please visit pawssandiego.org/programs.