As the Human Animal Support Services (HASS) project continues to drive positive change in the animal welfare industry to keep more people and pets together, we wanted to share the touching story, It Takes A Village Working Together: The story of Reverend Demitris Gonzalez. The story is told by Officer Caffray, a Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department (CMPD) Animal Control Officer in Charlotte, NC. Personal stories like this provide concrete examples of what the HASS model strives to accomplish – they provide inspiration, and remind us what collaboration can accomplish in each of our own communities.
Officer Caffray’s story shares the journey of two sisters, and how the community rallied together to help. Caffray along with Officers Rogers, Perry, Davis and Fink stepped up to help Ms. Gonzales when she moved to Charlotte, NC, to be closer to her sister who was in a medical facility. When Officer Caffray first met Ms. Gonzalez, she was living in a tent with her three seeing eye dogs.
Over time, Caffray and the other officers worked together to assist Ms. Gonzales both while on duty and on their off time. Caffray shares, “I started making several visits to Ms. Gonzalez on my off time, to charge her phone, bring her groceries and do some of her laundry for her.” She continues, “While on Duty, I brought her dog food, water and other pet supplies we had a surplus of.”
The community began to step up, too. Officer Caffray reached out for help from various organizations to aid Ms. Gonzalez with transportation, accessing necessities such as bathing, food and laundry, etc. Additionally, Ms. Gonzalez’s campsite was located in close proximity to veterinary care and a dog boarding facility. Both organizations helped Ms. Gonzalez and her dogs by supplying current vaccines, flea/tick prevention, dog houses and emergency veterinary care.
Flash forward nine months, they helped Ms. Gonzalez and her sister with their three service dogs find a house to call their home.
The story was well-received by the public, touching many people’s hearts, showing the power of collaboration from an Animal Care Control Officer’s perspective.
Stories like Ms. Gonzalez bring the HASS programs to life, exemplifying how animal sheltering is being reimagined to become more community-centric where people and pets are the focus. Community partners step up to help and work together, where everybody plays a role.
“Everyone deserves to have a loving companion. The happiness I feel when I help a pet parent keep their best friend, especially through tough times, is undefinable,” says Officer Caffray.
Read the full story to learn more about how their community teamed up to keep people and pets together. Want more about HASS? Check out their website for more information and learn how to get involved.