Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Community Conversations - 2/26/24 - We Belong Together: Keeping Pets and Their People Together Through Homelessness

    Posted 02-22-2024 10:01 AM

    Updated 2/26/24 at 2:30pm PT - Recording is now available to watch on-demand!

    We hope to see you on the next Community Conversations call on Monday, 2/26/24 at 11am PT for a very important discussion titled, "We Belong Together: Keeping Pets and Their People Together Through Homelessness."

    For people experiencing homelessness, a companion animal is more than a pet. That animal is comfort, safety, familiarity and emotional support.

    Unfortunately, many people experiencing homelessness are forced to separate from their beloved family member.

    Through openness and inclusivity, as well as acknowledging the importance of the human-animal bond, shelters and rescues can do much to preserve that bond. Re-examining policy, practicing trauma informed care techniques and understanding the unique needs of those facing homelessness and housing insecurity can go a long way in assuring that companion animals and their humans don't have to experience the trauma of separation.

    Register here for our Weekly Community Conversations Call taking place on Monday at 11am PT: 

    If you are unable to make it live on Monday, this thread will be updated with the recording and resources so you can watch and share whenever you'd like.  After you watch the recording on-demand or attend the call live, be sure to complete this February 2024 entry form to enter to win up to a $5,000 grant:


    Maddie's Pet Forum Admin
    Maddie's Fund

  • 2.  RE: Community Conversations - 2/26/24 - We Belong Together: Keeping Pets and Their People Together Through Homelessness

    Posted 02-23-2024 03:44 AM

    What a great topic. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the live call. I look forward to watching it later . We started a community pet food bank a few months ago with the hope that we could help community members who are having financial difficulties, keep their pets at home. We currently have two homeless people who receive donated food/supplies. I look forward to hearing what others are doing and to learn of ways we may better be able to help our neighbors. 

    Lisa Burn
    Farmhouse Animal & Nature Sanctuary
    Myakka City, FL

  • 3.  RE: Community Conversations - 2/26/24 - We Belong Together: Keeping Pets and Their People Together Through Homelessness

    Posted 02-23-2024 09:44 AM

    Can't wait for this! Since this is something our program does I am hoping for information on how others encourage S/N among the unhoused population. This is one of our biggest challenges.

    Roxane Fritz
    Veterinary Program Coordinator
    San Mateo County

  • 4.  RE: Community Conversations - 2/26/24 - We Belong Together: Keeping Pets and Their People Together Through Homelessness

    Posted 02-23-2024 03:13 PM

    This is a great topic and fits right in with our mission, I'm looking forward to it!

    Johanna Spielman
    Founder of Jamie Brianna's Legacy Fund

  • 5.  RE: Community Conversations - 2/26/24 - We Belong Together: Keeping Pets and Their People Together Through Homelessness

    Posted 02-26-2024 11:57 AM

    I have seen homeless folks with their animals and of course my heart goes out to both. I think creating ways to help both at the same time would be the best solution for all. I love my animals as like people. In my darkest times, they were there for me. I'm sure it's that way for them too. Thanks to everyone working on these ideas.  

    Janette Martin
    Grant Writer HSTC
    Humane Society Tipton County

  • 6.  RE: Community Conversations - 2/26/24 - We Belong Together: Keeping Pets and Their People Together Through Homelessness

    Posted 02-26-2024 03:14 PM

    Thanks to the 202 people who joined us on today's Community Conversations Call. The recording is now available to watch and share. Major thank you to each of our guest speakers Wanda, Kim, Dawn and Angie for their vulnerability and bravery in sharing their stories and recommendations on how animal well-being organizations can better support people and their pets. Below you'll find a recap of the call along with resources that were shared in the chat. 


    • Welcome from hosts
    • Question of the Day: Share a money-saving tip for pet supplies!
      • "Sam's Club has a grain free dog food" - Marianne Pestana
      • "Wood pellets for litter from building supply warehouses." - April King
        • "We have been using these for 5 years. We love them and never have to worry about someone washing a litter box with clumping litter in the sink and clogging the pipes." - Michelle Russillo
      • "I purchase fleas and worming medications from England and Canada." - Sandy Parker
      • "You can find cardboard scratchers at TJ Maxx, Ross, Home Goods, etc. They are at a great prices since they are only good for one litter of kittens." - Kristi Brooks
      • "Have a community food/pet drive." - Elaine Hicks
      • "GoodRx coupons for meds that can be filled at human pharmacies" - Zan Lowell
      • "old jeans, cut into strips and braided to make dog chew toys" - Kristen Baltrum
      • "Find the local pet store.  They usually have a robust clearance and great food." - Vincent
      • "Royal Canin has a great program and they let your foster parents sign up under your shelter to get great deals for fosters." - Kristi Brooks
      • "Use the cardboard boxes you get canned food in as disposable litter boxes in intake." - Kelly Furnas
        • "We have been doing this for two years. our community drops them off every day. During kitten season we do social media fun video posts showing the box lids compared to a 8-11 paper so the supporting community know exactly what we need for sizes- as an example." - Michelle Russillo
      • "There are many thrift shops that profits go to local animal shelters and I have found great deals on supplies for animals. Great for getting supplies for fosters and money goes to support the shelters" - Carissa Waldo
      • "We partner with WalMart, Target, Tractor Supply who donate to us weekly. We also post wishlist links to our social media. We haven't purchased food, treats, blankets, etc. in years" - Gina Laurenzi
        • "Ralphs now has a program that animal shelters can apply. I will post the link once I find it again." - Doris Kempton
      • "Not the best tip, but you can subscribe for autoshipment on Amazon for a discount and then cancel without penalty" - Amber Litwiller
      • "We receive donations from the public and it is distributed at local food banks." - Genevieve Frederick
      • "Purina for Professionals" - Deb Owens
      • "Wish List Wednesdays on social media, working with local cardboard companies for any cardboard needs like carriers/litterboxes, send DIY enrichment directions to the public with an ask, ask local companies to sponsor things like energy donations and facility improvements." - Alexis Pagoulatos
      • "Partner with other rescues. Sometimes they receive donations of food that are more than they can use in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes they will see it to you for pennies on the dollar" - Amy Joshua
      • "Establish relationships with your local pets stores - we regularly receive donations of food and toys and other supplies, for both community animals and shelter animals." - Phil Zimmerman

    National Updates

    Today's Presentation: We Belong Together: Keeping Pets and Their People Together Through Homelessness 

    Highlights from the Chat

    • "Feeding Pets of the Homeless offers free veterinary care to pets that are ill or injured that belong to people experiencing homelessness across the country.  Last year we paid for over 2,290 pets." - Genevieve Frederick
    • "Thank you Wanda and Kim and Dawn for sharing with us and trusting us to hear your stories." - Kathy Duncan
    • "Thank you so much for sharing your story all of you, it is important to know how we can improve systems for pet guardians and co living" - JeTaime Whiting
    • "We just started a program to provide pet food to the local homeless shelter, to feed their companion animals." - Doris Kempton
    • "Hello from Nebraska! Bridging Impact distributed 100K lbs of pet food in 2023 through our Bridge to Home program to keep pets at home with their people" - Shannon Roebuck
    • "Thank you for being brave and sharing with us." - Amber Litwiller
    • "My heart aches for you." - Roxane Fritz
    • "Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your lived experiences with us." - Chris Fitzgerald
    • "I'm so sorry Wanda, that you went through this and the groups at the Humane Society were not helpful in your moment of crisis." - Caitlin Thompson
    • "I agree! Trauma informed care is needed in animal welfare. PAW Team is all about  the "One Health" model of syncing human and animal services." - Nicole Perkins
    • "Vancouver Humane Society has a free online trauma informed care course for folks in the animal welfare sector:" - Kathy Duncan
    • "We really need to stop blaming and labeling pet parents" - Shannon Roebuck
    • "Dogs Matters offers Case management/Recovery Coach and counseling for our clients who are in recovery in an Aftercare Program that happens after reunification of the pet." - Stephen Knight
    • "Don't punish issues related to barriers in access" - Chris Fitzgerald
    • "As an investigator 20 years, a vast majority of neglect/abuse cases are actually social service, poverty cases." - Vincent
    • "Yeah, there aren't enough places for people to surrender animals they can't care for anymore. And if they ask for help, they often get shamed and attacked" - Maria S
    • "Yes, less gate keeping of medicine and more recognition  of the reality of access to care. If we acknowledge  the truth ,  we can   train more people in providing affordable medical care" - Mehnaz Aziz
    • "Also for seniors that don't have options and are on a budget." - Anita Selby
    • "Congratulations on your sobriety!" - Allison Cardona
    • "Kudos on your sobriety!" - Kirsten VantWoud
    • "Congratulations on your sobriety achievement." - Alayne Hansen
    • "We provide crisis foster care until owners can reunite, but when we don't have a foster, pet owners often have no other options. Lately, we're running into shelters refusing to take pets even as a last resort. I wonder how shelters can trust that people have truly exhausted all other options when a surrender is truly needed?" - Gabe Horton
      • "We trust we are doing the best for the cat if someone tries to surrender an animal to us." - Nicholas Ristine
    • "Hi Wanda, which state is the one that criminalizes the acts that you were talking about? I'm an attorney in California and I might be able to help with expungement in California.  If not in the state of California, I can see if I know anyone who might be able to help you.  My email address is" - Suliana Lutin
    • "I'm more than happy to continue these important discussions with any interested parties," - Wanda Miller
    • "Is there messaging that animal welfare people could have used that would have made you feel helped and safe rather than feeling like you had to hide?  How do we message the safety?" - Kirsten VantWoud
      • "Kirsten, I think if someone had just treated my situation with compassion and understanding, I would have felt heard and validated." - Wanda Miller
    • "Human and Animal Services collaborating and working hand and hand is the present and the future." - Vincent
    • "Animal Services IS Human Services!! Case management and support for the person and the animal is critical! Thank you all for sharing and helping bring this to light." - Yael Oppenheimer
    • "Thank you for sharing your story." - Alayne Hansen
    • "Literally a conversation I was having with my staff this morning. We cannot judge" - Alexsey Dobberstine
    • "Thank you for sharing!!!" - Kristin Moro
    • "Some states and cities have limits on the number of animals a person can have and also require licenses beyond the rabies tags." - Penny Leisch
    • "That was beautiful!!!" - Vincent
    • "Thank you Kim for your honest share!" - Cassandra Smith
    • "Thank you all truly for sharing" - Lawrence Minnis
    • "Thank you all for the frank and honest share" - Amy Joshua
    • "These stories are the reality for too many everyday in every corner of every community. The speakers and sharing of their journeys are nothing but inspiring! Thank you for sharing and creating change by doing so.  We need more speakers/stories like these ❤️🐾" - Jeanette Anders
    • "I just want to give appreciation to my co-presenters, Maddie's Fund and all the wonderful animal welfare workers on this call." - Wanda Miller
    • "These stories point out the many gaps in services and support. We started a respite care program before the pandemic and couldn't maintain it through the pandemic. However, we learned a lot and facilitated several other programs. I can say from experience, it's tough on the rescue end too because there are so many variables. Still, there is a huge need for more help for the gaps and less strict policies to surrender as the only option." - Penny Leisch
    • "Wanda, Kim and Dawn, thank you so much for your kindness and bravery in sharing your experiences with all of us.  I'm humbled and ashamed by what each of you have gone through. We failed you back then but we can do better now. We will do better.  Thank you!" - Mary @ Maddie's Fund
      • "Thank you Mary! The way to healing is through communication. Together we can and will foster system change." - Wanda Miller
    • "Feeding Pets of the Homeless will sponsor wellness clinics.  We need veterinarians to apply and go to where the homeless congregate." - Genevieve Frederick
    • "I am from Arkansas.  A large number of Eastern counties have no municipal shelters. Arkansas is ranked 49th for Vets per Capita." - June Thomas
    • "Thank you, everyone, for being here and sharing. It really does make a huge difference to hear your stories. Thank you<3" - Jennifer Komis
    • "This is powerful.  Thank you for sharing." - Suny Simon
    • "I sincerely appreciate this group being so vulnerable and allowing us into their personal space." - Nicole King
    • "Storytelling is so important in understanding why we need change and I'm so thankful that Maddie's is allowing a platform for this important aspect" - Shannon Roebuck
    • "We got a $1,000 grant for TNR and probably won't be able to use it all in my area. We offer to pay for the TNR training through Community Cats Podcast which has excellent training that's cheap. We put notices on the FB group too. Yet there is a huge waiting list for the volunteer trappers through the city shelter that is about a year and a half long or more. People don't want to do it themselves. They want it done for them, but they don't want to pay either. It's a catch-22." - Penny Leisch
    • "I live in York County, PA and we are having problems with Community Cats being poisoned, shot, and abused here. We need to recognize that Community Cats are often friendly strays that once had a home and should be treated as such." - Wanda Miller
    • "Thank you for opening up with your personal experiences so our orgs can better understand what needs to be addressed." - Claudia Labbe
    • "Everyone who is sharing their story, thank you!! You are bringing us incredibly powerful stories and information.  Your strength is undeniable." - Kristin Moro
    • "Temporary Fostering instead of surrender is part of the solution.  Give the owner a chance to get healthy or housed and be able to get their pet back." - Stephen Knight
    • "Part of the problem is that fake ESA letters are so easy to get. There are no legal/official rules about them like there are for service animals" - Maria S
      • "Yes, but so many animals are Emotional Support Animals and housing is such a challenge for tenants with pets." - Irene Chansawang
      • "Maria, that's true and HUD really needs to get involved in the issue." - Wanda Miller
    • "HEART LA has lots of information and resources for renters." - Allison Cardona
    • "Thank you for sharing and working for solutions." - Penny Leisch
    • "Someone reached out to our shelter this morning seeking out temporary fostering for her grandmother's dogs while she is in a physical rehab for the next 2 weeks. We explained how shelters are overflowing with little to no spare space nor enough staffing to even meet their own needs for care. She understood and was grateful for the options we tried to provide if she had the funds such as pet sitters or boarding facilities instead of shelters." - Claudia Labbe
    • "Thank you to everyone sharing these incredibly moving stories. I am deeply humbled." - Lisa Coscino
    • "Thank you all for sharing with such vulnerability." - Allison Cardona
    • "All these speakers are so inspiring. 💜" - Chrissie Moore
    • "Thank you so much for these stories, it really does help me understand more and make better choices for people and animals." - Christine Quesada
    • "@ Vincent, has Animal Human Services reached out to psychologist regarding their letters for support pets? In California a psychologist writes a letter to a landlord that legally allows a person to have a support pet if in their professional opinion, the person requesting the letter needs the emotional support of pets. As an attorney, I attended one of their national conferences and was a speaker with a friend psychologist about psychological evaluations for immigration purposes." - Suliana Lutin
    • "Thanks for sharing and being vulnerable with us everyone" - Chris Fitzgerald
    • "Thank you so much for sharing your stories!" - Mary Flores
    • "Very moving! Thank you all." - Martha

    Charlotte Otero
    Community Strategist at Maddie's Fund

  • 7.  RE: Community Conversations - 2/26/24 - We Belong Together: Keeping Pets and Their People Together Through Homelessness

    Posted 02-26-2024 03:16 PM

    Unanswered question from the chat for anyone who has suggestions:

    "Do a lot of animal control persons watch these webinars? I have not successfully had ACO because we are not an authority that sets their learning objectives for the year. Suggestions?"

    Maddie's Pet Forum Admin
    Maddie's Fund