The Center for Animal Health and Welfare in Williams Township, Pennsylvania is going above and beyond what homeless U.S. veteran expected when he reached out to the shelter for help in getting his cat out of the heat.
Robert Ferreria, 40, and his cat Fabulous were evicted from his Wind Gap apartment. With temperatures soaring about 90 degrees, Robert was desperate to find help for his 18-month-old tabby. He showed up at the Center on Wednesday and asked if anyone could help his until he could get back on his feet.
Despite the temperatures and being homeless, Robert made it clear he wasn’t going to surrender Fabulous, saying the cat was his little buddy and he’d never give him up.
Executive direct of the nonprofit animal shelter, Kelly Bauer, was soon climbing into Roberts 2003 GMC Envoy and making a seven-minute video plea to her Facebook followers. Kelly has a great support network and within hours a foster home was found for Fabulous and temporary housing and several job leads were found for Robert.
Kelly understands that pets are family and she respected Robert for trying to keep his little family together. She knew she had to help and understood Robert’s dilemma as she was homeless as a child living with her father in Quakertown. Kelly stated in an interview with The Morning Call
“Fostering truly saves lives. If people want to help people like Robert, that’s the way to do it.”
Renee Lowry, executive director of Pets of the Homeless, says they get at least calls each week from people seeking a pet-friendly homeless shelter. Due to government restrictions these shelters don’t allow pets, siting everything from fleas on the animals to allergies of the people living in the shelters.
There are currently 3.5 million homeless people in the United States. At least 25 percent of them have at least one companion animal. That adds up to as many as 875,000 pets living on the streets.
Kelly is doing what she can to help the homeless with their pets. She recently applied for a grant that would allow her to set up space in the shelter specifically for homeless pets. The grant would make it possible to offer temporary housing for pets until owners could get back on their feet. Unfortunately, space would remain an issue.
With 155 cats and 52 dogs, as of last week, at the no-kill facility, Kelly really needs for people to step up to foster. She can only keep a homeless pet for around 30 days max.
Robert was a cargo specialist with the Army for 10 years. He recently set up a web design business that didn’t do as well as he hoped. When the business stalled and Robert couldn’t catch up on the bills, he and his girlfriend were evicted. His girlfriend found a place to stay but Robert and Fabulous were left on their own. He’s spent most of the past week in a parking lot where he was running the air conditioning as much as possible.
His SUV has mechanical problems but despite this Robert slept on the front seat and cleared an area for Fabulous in the back, complete with litter box, food and a play area. Kelly confirmed Robert is taking very good care of his cat.
Nationally, U.S. Housing and Urban Development estimates that veteran homelessness is on the decline. HUD’s annual assessment counted 37,878 homeless vets in 2018, representing a decrease of 5.4% over the previous year, and nearly half the number of homeless veterans reported in 2010. I’m not sure I trust those numbers. Veterans are dying (often by their own hand) and I personally believe the problem is getting worse.
You don’t even want me to get into why I think this is such a sad situation. The last time I spoke up that the U.S. needs to help their own first before they send money to other countries I got ‘bashed’ on social media. The U.S. government needs to take off its blinders and do more to help the homeless population. A good portion of the population doesn’t realize how bad the problem is.
The Center for Animal Health and Welfare is a private non-profit, no-kill shelter located in Easton, PA.