People who love dogs and cats need them in their lives, even if that life is lived on the streets. Indeed, a pet may be their sole source of comfort and love. Julie credits her dog for her peace of mind when she was a single houseless woman. “I always slept easy with him by my side. No one was going to mess with me!”
Houseless pet owners had a chance to take care of their special companions on June 2 when a coalition of community groups staged the first Corvallis Street Dawgs & Catz Care Fair. Twenty-two dogs and cats were examined, had their ears cleaned and nails trimmed, were given medications, vaccinations, and parasite control. Seven volunteer veterinary students from the OSU Shelter Medicine Club (SMC) and Dr. Sharon Forster-Blouin delivered care described by one pet owner as “a lifesaver”. Before this local event (organized by Occupy Corvallis), SMC had traveled out-of-town.
The newly formed Advocates for Pets of the Homeless (APH) provided free ID tags and information on county dog licensing and qualifications for service dogs. One special project of APH is the foster dog program. Grant Carlin of APH explained that houseless pet owners have no one to keep their pets when they are confronted with an illness or need to go to work or a cold weather shelter. Any pet lovers willing to become foster caregivers should contact APH for information (541 738-0122).
Generous donations from Animal Crackers, Heartland Humane Society, and Eastside Veterinary Clinic were popular as new leashes and harnesses, shampoo and brushes, and food and treats found deserving homes.
If the pets were less than pleased, their owners and the volunteers were delighted. This first event was so successful that a follow-up event in the fall is being planned. Any community members wishing to be involved or donate services, money, or supplies are urged to contact the Shelter Medicine Care Club (firstname.lastname@example.org), Advocates for Pets of the Homeless or Occupy Corvallis. Donations (marked for Corvallis Pets Care Fair) can be dropped off in the lobby of Magruder Hall.
Houseless pet owners were very appreciative of this event. As one pet owner said, “My pets are my life. I’m with them 24 hours a day.”