But when it comes to San Francisco’s plan to pair shelter dogs with formerly homeless people living in temporary city housing, we say go for it.
Despite concerns from PETA and others, the city is proceeding with plans for a program it has dubbed WOOF (Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos), in which residents of what the city calls “supportive housing” will be paid a $75 a week stipend to take in and care for a dog.
Starting on a trial basis in August, residents who have no history of violence, mental illness or addiction, will be allowed to temporarily take in a shelter dog and serve as foster parent.
On top of the stipend, they’ll receive training, and free dog food. In the pilot phase of the program five pairs of residents will care for one dog each.
Bevan Dufty, a former supervisor ’s who now serves as the mayor’s homelessness chief, came up with the proposal as a way of addressing two problems at once — overcrowding in animal shelters and panhandling in the streets.
The idea is, with the stipend, those residents who are chronic panhandlers will avoid that behavior.
That’s a big hope, and, as any seasoned panhandler can tell you, there’s no better way to reel in potential donors than by having a dog at your side.
Even if it doesn’t wipe out panhandling, though, even if it is fraught with risks and has a high potential for exploitation, even though it’s not keeping dogs in the safest possible environment, we think it’s an innovative idea worth taking a chance on.
Because when needy dogs and needy people are brought together, miracles can happen.
PETA has come out squarely against the idea, saying the city would be experimenting with the lives of puppies, and placing them in dangerous situations. The organization compared the program to playing “Russian roulette.”
In a letter to the mayor, PETA wrote that most panhandlers are substance abusers or have mental health issues: “Placing any animal with them is risky at best.”
And if people receive animals that have been difficult to adopt out, or judged unadoptable, that could spell more even trouble, PETA says.
“Putting these two troubled populations together is very likely to result in disaster,” Teresa Chagrin, PETA’s animal care and control specialist, is quoted by ABC News as saying.
PETA has offered San Francisco $10,000 — the initial cost of the pilot program — to hire the homeless to do something else, such as handing out leaflets urging people to spay and neuter their pets.
Dufty, who is director of San Francisco’s Housing Opportunities, Partnership, and Engagement (HOPE) initiative — the city goes to great lengths for catchy acronyms — said that the housing residents chosen for the program are trying to get their lives back on track, and that they are fully able to care for pets.
“These are individuals who have been through job readiness programs, who live in our buildings. They were individually interviewed, went through orientation, and have gotten a gold star of approval,” Dufty said.
San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control, a partner in the program — its initial funding is through a $10,000 grant from Vanessa Getty– said those residents taking part will be fully screened.
“You have this image of us pulling up in a van full of dogs handing them out to people,” director Rebecca Katz said. “We would not be putting animals at risk. Our job is to investigate animal abuse and neglect. We are going to have a lot more oversight during this fostering program than if they were to just adopt dogs on their own.”
PETA’s Chagrin counters: “You can’t put dogs with people who are battling their own demons.”
Having heard so many tales of people whose dogs helped them beat their demons, and vice versa, we think — whether it solves the panhandling problem or not — the program deserves a try, in a very well-monitored way. It creates a chance for some magic to happen, for some love to bloom, for some lives to change.
“In order to be effective in responding to homelessness, you can’t ignore the humanity of people,” Dufty said. “Ultimately this program is about giving dogs and people a second chance, and I don’t see how you can argue against that.”
(Photo: Michael Reed, with his dog Topaz, both of whom were homeless when we encountered them in Los Angeles in 2008; by John Woestendiek)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 25th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: $75, animal care & control, animal control, animal shelters, animals, bevan dufty, care, dog, dogs, foster, homeless, homelessness, hope, monthly, overcrowding, panhandlers, panhandling, peta, pets, residents, russian roulette, san francisco, shelter, stipend, supportive housing, wonderful opportunities for occupants and fidos, woof!
Blue’s not totally destitute. He has an air conditioned dog house, $1,800 in savings, a Facebook page and a lawyer, who’s now working to get him an exemption from local leash laws so he can continue his free and rambling lifestyle.
Abandoned as a puppy 10 years ago, Blue, also known as Bluedog, was left at Casa Taco and cared for by the owner, who died two years ago, according to the Associated Press.
Janice Conner, co-owner of Butte General Store and Marina, took over feeding Blue after that. But when a citizen complained about Blue following her and her dog on walks, someone in the city decided that Blue should receive a citation for being off leash, and issued it to Conner’s husband, Bob Owen.
Albuquerque attorney Hilary Noskin offered her legal services, and is trying to get Owen, who doesn’t officially own the dog, off the hook — and win an exemption that would allow Blue to live out the rest of his years, preferably untethered, in front of the store he now calls home.
“He’s one of my favorite clients,” says Noskin. “He is a sweet, sweet dog. He doesn’t meet any vicious dog standards. Somebody said he snarls … but I am not sure I believe that.”
City Manager Alan Briley says the city has received complaints about Blue snapping and growling and almost being hit by cars crossing the street.
Blue has resisted efforts to adopt him, always making his way back to the store. Local residents have donated more than $1,800 his care, Conner said, and they’ve also built him a dog house with heating pads for the winter and air conditioning for the summer.
“Everybody just loves this dog. People who can’t afford a dog bring their kids here to play with Blue. … He is the only dog I know who got four plates of Thanksgiving dinner at his dog house,” she said.
Conner says she has collected more than 1,100 signatures in support of Blue, who is on Facebook as Bluedog EB-Mascot.
“He was here before we became a city” she said, “so all we are asking for is for the city to grandfather him in as a representative of the community.”
(Photo: From Blue’s Facebook page)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air conditioned, australian cattle dog, blue, blue dog, bluedog, butte general store, casa taco, citation, citizens, city council, communal dog, dog house, donations, elephant butte, everybodys dog, exemption, facebook, heated, hilary noskin, homeless, janice conner, lawyer, leash laws, new mexico, off-leash, residents, savings account, stray, wanderer
Chief Gene Wrinn , acknowledged that his officers didn’t follow procedure during the March 21 incident and that they failed to call animal control officers, in accordance with policy.
His remarks came during a meeting Tuesday with residents, held at a local library, according to the Brattleboro Reformer
“We screwed up. We apologize for that, and we’re going to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said. “We’ve gotten some good feedback. We’re not sweeping anything under the carpet. We’re having conversations.”
Wrinn said two officers responded to the Green Street School playground for a dog complaint, and one of the officers used a shotgun to kill the animal, believed to be a pit bull or pit bull mix.
“It was truly unfortunate that the department had to take the dog’s life, but it had to happen,” Wrinn said.
While some have described the dog as “dying,” other residents say it may have just been ill. “It probably was hungry. It probably was dehydrated,” said one.
Wrinn declined to say if the two officers involved had been disciplined. “That’s a personnel matter, and it can’t be discussed,” he said.
Wrinn noted that department representatives have met with the Windham County Humane Society. “This may be a great opportunity for training for the officers,” he added.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animal control, animals, brattleboro, citizens, complaints, dog, dogs, dying, gene wrinn, meeting, officers, pets, pit bull, playground, police, police chief, residents, school, shooting, shot, shotgun, sick, vermont
Residents who have snuck dogs into a no-dogs-allowed Brooklyn housing co-op are being told to get rid of their dogs, or face monthly $100 fines and the loss of their parking spaces.
The co-op board notified residents of Trump Village of the new enforcement policy in a notice last month.
“I think it’s totally ridiculous,” Marylyn Langsdorf, 66, who lives with her 6-pound Yorkshire terrier, Chelsea, told the New York Daily News. “I think the whole point is to just get money from us.”
Langsdorf and other residents with dogs have already been fined, but they’ve yet to have their parking spaces revoked.
About 1,700 residents live in the three-building complex, and a dozen already have contacted a Manhattan attorney who specializes in pet-related tenant rights.
“It’s a way to extract money from these folks and scare the hell out of them to give up dogs they’ve had for years,” said attorney Maddy Tarnofsky.
Warren Hirsch, a spokesman for the Trump Village co-op board, said “a small number of residents have surreptitiously smuggled in dogs in defiance of the rules and regulations binding them. They have thumbed their noses at their fellow cooperators and dared the co-op to do something about it.”
(Photo: Langsdorf, left, with Chelsea, and another dog-owning resident; New York Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, brooklyn, co-op, dogs, enforcement, fines, forbidden, housing, new york city, news, no dogs allowed, not allowed, parking, parking spaces, pets, residents, revoking, rules, trump village
It’s a familiar chain of events in many a city — a particular neighborhood, usually by virtue of its location, emerges as desirable. Young and affluent people move in. Real estate prices rise and, with them, taxes. The old neighborhood bars get upscaled. Mom and pop shops close down. Oldtimers start leaving. A Whole Foods opens. Then you step in dog poop.
The fancy word for it is gentrification — and while dogs are, for the most part, innocent bystanders (byrunners? bypoopers?) they often seem to surface as the issue around which gentrifications wars play out.
I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between a recent story out of Venice, California, appearing in the Santa Monica Daily Press, and our situation right here in South Baltimore.
The story looked at a growing conflict between long-time black and Latino members of a Venice neighborhood and affluent newcomers and their dogs. Long-time residents are complaining about the presence of off-leash dogs in the park.
“When families in the neighborhood see the blatant disregard for the law and there is signage throughout the park, it sends a message that they’re above the law and privileged,” said Lydia Ponce, who serves on the Oakwood Park Advisory Board, “It sets up a cultural divide.”
Dog owners, meanwhile, say they are simply seeking a place for their dogs to run — an activity that, properly monitored, impinges on no one’s rights or space. “We’re law-abiding citizens and we don’t want to get tickets for exercising dogs in the morning,” said Dr. Douglas Stockel, who has lived in Venice for five years.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baltimore, california, cultural divide, divisions, dog owners, dog parks, dogs, gentrification, gentrified, gentrify, issues, leash law, neighborhoods, off-leash, parks, perceptions, residents, stereotypes, tensions, venice