From Nov. 12-18, 42 animals were brought to the Animal Protection League.
Last week, the column was about making a lifetime commitment to your pet. One of the comments on our Facebook page was from someone whose house had burned down and they were living in their pickup truck with three dogs (one is a service dog) and a cat. They had no money and were trying to get help so they could keep their animals. We asked how we could help them. They came to APL the next day.
These people had lost almost every material thing they owned. They had been staying in the Motel 6, which allowed them to have their pets, but their assistance had run out as well as their finances. They were desperate to keep their pets. I started calling people who I thought could help as well as other motels.
I was not really ready for the resistance I was about to face in keeping these animals with their humans. With the assistance programs, I had no problem finding a place for the couple and their service dog, but not the other two dogs or cats. They were sorry but just couldn’t do it. Motel 6, where they had stayed, was booked. Other motels, if they allowed pets at all, would not reduce the cost when I explained the circumstances. One motel who would allow the pets wanted $350 plus tax for the weekend.
These folks had no money left; so the money would need to be raised. She said they would volunteer at APL to pay us back. I was stunned and proud as several of my staff, who do not make a lot of money to begin with, were pressing money into her hands and wishing her well. A man who was adopting one of our dogs was listening and said he would donate to help pay a motel bill. When I asked why he said, “I’ve been in their shoes.”
And while their generosity of spirit touched my heart and renewed my faith in humans it made me more irritated that the motels that we called would not help. I was not asking for them to not get paid, just to help us since we would be raising the money.
We were able to get them into one of the fire rescue houses with the help of Skip Ockomon, and one of my employees stepped up to foster the two other dogs and cat in her home until they had a place to go. They were very reluctant to leave these pets because, as she told me with tears streaming down her face, they were elderly and had never been away from her.
My takeaway from this: It should not be this hard to help people in crisis, especially people with pets. Imagine losing everything you own and then to face having to lose the pets you love dearly because you have nowhere to go with them. We need to do better.