January 10th, 2022
Now more than ever, there’s something special about bringing people from different sectors together for a common goal – in this case, strengthening the human-animal bond and recognizing the importance of keeping people and their pets together.
In early December, I reconnected with my co-conspirator, Bryn Donnelly from Greater Good Charities’ Rescue Rebuild program, to host a two-day “mini” conference (an expanded version of our Don’t Forget the Pets workshops) in San Diego, California. This was also our first in-person meeting since February of 2020! Taking the necessary precautions, we were joined by folks across San Diego County (and even from the Los Angeles area) to discuss how we, as a community, can support people and their pets through times of crisis.
Our collaborative project, Don’t Forget the Pets, focuses on bringing together folks from various spheres – human services, animal services, veterinary medicine, social workers, law enforcement, and others interested in understanding how the lack of pet housing programs can create a barrier to services for those who need them. By recognizing and supporting the human-animal bond, organizations create an opportunity to build trust with pet parents and affirm a sense of normalcy and self-worth.
Throughout our conference, we broke down barriers to creating pet housing programs – everything from concerns over allergies and animal bites to funding, lack of staff, and getting board buy-in. We discussed challenges and successes and heard from local experts on how their pet housing programs started and are now thriving. Lorie Westhoff from our Purple Leash Project partner, Purina, even joined us to moderate one of the sessions and offer insights from the funding space.
Perhaps most importantly, we validated and supported each other in this important work. It’s amazing to see what happens when previously siloed spheres come together around a singular intention – to keep people and their pets together.
Our goal in all of our Don’t Forget the Pets activities is for participants to feel supported – not just by us, but by their local communities. To leave feeling more confident and connected than when they arrived. Because if we aren’t able to support the pets of people in crisis, we aren’t able to support people.