This post originally ran September 2020. With the animal welfare movement constantly evolving and transitioning to meet the needs of people and their pets, animal shelter and rescue organizations are realizing they may need to think outside of the box to find ways to best serve their communities. One organization in particular, LifeLine Animal Project in Atlanta, GA, had a pup and his family that prompted their organization to stray away from traditional practices. Andrea Peterson, LifeLine’s Chief Operating Officer, shares the story of a woman named Pilari, and her dog, Grayson.
When LifeLine got a call from one of our emergency veterinary partners, it really made us think outside of traditional shelter practices.
A young woman named Pilari, who has been homeless for a while, showed up to a local veterinarian with her dog. She was in tears because he was lethargic, vomiting, and not eating. She did not have any money to give him any care, so she agreed to surrender him to the shelter. Because she loved him so much and did not want him to suffer, they called Animal Control to come pick him up.
Fortunately, one of the veterinarian employees knew that LifeLine is part of the Human Animal Support Services (HASS) coalition, where we are reimagining sheltering by promoting community involvement and providing a range of services to help keep people and pets together. She called us, and we worked with Pilari to find a solution.
It turned out that Pilari found a transitional housing facility that she was moving into two days later with her dog. She did not have a phone, email, or even an address of where she would be. We gave her multiple contacts for LifeLine, and had faith that she would call us when she was settled. We took her dog Grayson to our Community Animal Center Clinic, where it was found that he just had a severe case of hookworms – easy fix! We also went ahead and gave him vaccinations, a microchip, and neuter per Pilari’s request. We let him recover at our clinic, and waited for her call.
Like clockwork, Pilari called us right away! She was all settled into her new place, and we were able to drive Grayson out to her, where they were reunited again. You could already tell the difference in Pilari… knowing that her faithful companion can continue to be by her side, just like she has been by his.
Traditional sheltering would have simply required Pilari to surrender her dog for treatment, and then to find another home. Home is not always a physical place; in this case, home for Grayson was wherever Pilari was. It’s our duty as an animal welfare organization to take responsibility for trying to keep their home and family together.