Home Community News This Pet Shelter Only Hires Homeless People Who Love Animals

This Pet Shelter Only Hires Homeless People Who Love Animals

More than three years ago, I rescued an older, injured dog named Mabel. I found her on the side of the road, in the middle of the Rio de Janeiro forest, as she struggled to walk.
glenn greenwald with his rescue dogs
We were able to find amazing homes in the U.S. for four of Mable’s six puppies, and kept two for ourselves. Several of the families who adopted Mable’s puppies described how those puppies enriched their lives.
glenn greenwald with his dogs
homeless dog and homeless man sleeping on street
The compassion, empathy and self-sacrifice defining the relationship between those who are homeless and their pets is extraordinary. It is difficult to explain how affecting it is to watch a hungry, homeless person receive a desperately needed meal and, without a second thought, instantly divide it in half to share it with their hungry dog or cat. Leslie Irvine, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado, has devoted much of her academic career to studying this unique relationship, and even named her book on the topic, “My Dog Always Eats First.”
still from the field of vision film Karollyne
a homeless man with his dog
still from field of vision birdie man feeding dog on street
But the unique attribute is that the shelter will be staffed exclusively by homeless people who live on the streets with their pets and thus have a demonstrated affinity for caring for animals in need. By providing them employment in animal shelters centered around the passion they have already developed — along with social work and other services to aid them in managing their income and transitioning them from the streets into permanent employment — we believe we can utilize the mutual support that homeless people and animals in need provide one another in order to help both.
homeless man with his dogs
As we developed this idea, the perfect opportunities seemed to fall into place almost like magic. Late last year, I wrote a profile, and produced a short film, about a same-sex Brazilian couple who set out to adopt a child, only to learn at the last minute that the child they intended to adopt — a 5-year-old boy — happened to have two older brothers, 8 and 11, also in adoption shelters. Despite their own financial difficulties, the couple adopted all three boys at once, and quickly formed a loving family.
homeless trans woman with dogs
homeless man with dogs
They picked her up, and spent hours going from one veterinarian to the next until they found one willing to treat the puppy for free. She was diagnosed with a serious, usually fatal, neurological virus to which unvaccinated puppies are particularly vulnerable. The virus was already too advanced to cure, but the puppy’s tragically short life was made so much better by the constant love and attention she received from two people who often have difficulty feeding themselves.
homeless trans woman with dog
One of the two — Lucas, 20, who also has an adult dog of his own — became the first homeless person hired, and he is now working directly with Francisco to develop the shelter. The salary he began receiving has enabled him to rent an apartment and begin to stabilize his life.
homeless trans woman with dogs
The only piece the shelter is now missing is public support. We are initiating a campaign to seek donations and other forms of aid from those who wish to help get our shelter off the ground and sustain it into the future.
David Miranda, with his dogs
That’s why we are turning to the public for help. We were able to obtain modest start-up funding by circulating our proposal to several individuals who have a history of supporting both homeless programs and animal rights activism. That is what has enabled us to initiate the project, make our first couple of hires and begin work to get the project off the ground.
street dogs in brazil
We are very eager to demonstrate the power of this project so that other similar shelters are created around the world. We will provide regular video and written updates on the homeless people we hire and the animals we rescue and place for adoption.