Homeless outreach team offers dogs in need TLC
Homeless dogs braving triple-digit temperatures in Tempe will get some TLC on Friday with free pet food, supplies and microchipping services as the city helps animals in need.
The City of Tempe’s homeless outreach team, or HOPE, is seeing an increase in the numbers of people who are homeless with pets. But assisting them with housing can be a challenge. The owners are often reluctant to go into a temporary shelter because they don’t want to be separated from a beloved pet.
“We know that people experiencing homelessness want to remain with their dogs. That relationship may be the one constant in their lives,” said Nichole Stevens, Tempe’s homeless solutions supervisor. “Offering a bag of food or water dish helps us start the conversation with their owners about options, housing and services.”
The HOPE team is hosting the Aug. 16 outreach event with the nonprofit Arizona Animal Rescue Mission (AARM) and Bella Project, a volunteer group focused on homeless dogs. Supplies and services will be available starting at 7 a.m. at Tempe First United Methodist Church, 215 E. University Dr. The event is open to people who are currently experiencing homelessness.
AARM will provide microchips, tags and collars. The Bella Project is offering dog food and treats, leashes, collars, harnesses, toys and booties.
Advocates don’t know how many pets are on the streets with their owners at any given time. But during the countywide Point-in-Time Homeless Count last January, volunteers counted 182 pets with people experiencing homelessness.
“In Tempe, we regularly see pets who are hungry, wounded or suffering from serious medical issues,” said homeless outreach specialist Kelly Denman. “Helping these animals is just the right thing to do. If we can build trust with owners at these kinds of community events, we increase our chances of connecting people with what they need to change their lives.”
For more information about the City of Tempe’s homeless-related efforts: www.tempe.gov/EndingHomelessness.
Susie Steckner, Susie_steckner@tempe.gov or 480-734-5186