A Seattle-area church that offers its parking lot and other facilities to homeless women has added a mini-dog park — so the dogs belonging to those women can romp off leash.
Volunteers with the non-profit group Fences for Fido put up the fencing Saturday at Kirkland’s Lake Washington United Methodist Church, KING5 reported.
The church runs a “Safe Parking” program, and 40-50 women and families a night sleep there in their cars.
The women, after registering with the program and getting a background check, can use the church’s kitchen, bathrooms and Wi-Fi, and if temperatures outside get below freezing the women can sleep inside on the church’s pews.
They also have access to food and toiletries donated by church members, community resource information and counseling services.
“We recognize that people who are homeless and have a vehicle face challenges in where to park their car without fear of tickets or harassment,” the church explains on its website.
“We also recognize that homelessness can be isolating and the benefits of community and relationships can be life-transforming. We at Lake Washington United Methodist Church offer our parking lot to guests as a safe place to park, sleep in their cars, and become part of our church community.”
Now the church has recognized that many of those homeless women also have dogs, which can often be a reason they haven’t found space in shelters.
The fenced-in dog run was constructed by Fences for Fido, a Portland-based non-profit that provides dog houses, spay-neuter services, veterinary care and fencing to families whose dogs are chained or tethered.
“The fact that the church has stepped up and is utilizing their facilities to help these women makes it even more important that we step up and help them keep their pets because their pets are their family and their friends,” said Michele Coppola, a member of the group.
One of the safe parkers, who identified herself as Cheryl, lives in her VW Jetta car with her dog, Shiloh. Her own health issues make it hard for her to see that Shiloh gets enough exercise.
She said it was a “huge deal … to be able to get her out of the back seat, to have her be able to romp and play and run free for a while.”