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Mother & Son Stood In Shelter Lobby Clutching Their Dog And Crying

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on January 11, 2023

Carolina and her teenage son stood in the lobby of a Phoenix animal shelter with tears streaming down their faces. The boy clutched a fuzzy black and tan dog to his chest, occasionally whispering reassuring words into the pup’s floppy ear. A counselor for the Arizona Pet Project noticed their distress and invited them to share their story.

After 13 years in their home, Carolina and her family received notice that they must move out in just 30 days. The loving mom somehow managed to find an affordable place in the insanely competitive housing market; they even allowed dogs. But with first and last month’s rent and additional moving expenses, Carolina could not manage the additional pet deposit required by her new landlord.

The decision was gut-wrenching: let go of the new place and risk homelessness while searching and saving for another pet-friendly rental, or give up Maggie, the dog her family cherished.

Carolina knew she had to keep a roof over her children’s heads. So with a broken heart, she headed to the same shelter where she had joyfully adopted Maggie five years before. Luckily, the Arizona Pet Project was on the scene. Minutes after entering the shelter, Carolina’s heartbreak turned to pure joy. The 501c3 nonprofit offered to pay Maggie’s pet deposit so she could stay right where she belongs: in the arms of her loving family!

Arizona Pet Project

Sadly, Carolina and Maggie’s story isn’t unique. Countless pets are relinquished to shelters every year because of financial constraints or personal crises. Whether a family is facing poverty, housing issues, or domestic violence, the Arizona Pet Project is there to provide services and resources to prevent the unnecessary surrender of their beloved companions.

No One Should Have To Say Goodbye To Their Pet Due To An Unforeseen Medical Event

Whether a pet suffers an injury or a pet parent is diagnosed with an illness, companionship is more important than ever in times of medical crisis. Laurie was suffering from horrific back pain when she learned surgery was her only option for relief. As a doting dog mom to Pippa for eight years, Laurie’s first concern was what would happen to Pippa during her recovery.

Facing months of excruciating pain and limited mobility, Laurie felt her only option was to surrender ownership of the senior Schnauzer. As Laurie left a Phoenix shelter in tears, Daniel, one of Arizona Pet Project’s counselors, caught up with her. Daniel helped Laurie find care and support for Pippa so they could stay together throughout her recovery and beyond.

Arizona Pet Project

Homelessness Shouldn’t Be A Crime

People experiencing homelessness often face charges for minor offenses like trespassing while simply trying to survive on the streets. Such was the case with Taydra, who found herself facing a 6-month jail sentence and the loss of her dearest companion, Whinny. With the help of their extensive network of nonprofit partners, the Arizona Pet Project placed Whinny in a wonderful boarding facility until she and Taydra could be reunited.

Arizona Pet Project

Pets Deserve Protection From Abuse, Too

Like many victims of domestic violence, Sarah refused to leave her abusive relationship without her beloved dog. She was lucky enough to find shelter at the Sojourner Center, which offers a pet companion shelter to keep families and pets together. However, Sarah’s dog bit another resident’s dog amid the stress and chaos.

Terrified of losing her pooch, Sarah contacted the Arizona Pet Project, who paid for temporary boarding. Sarah was able to stay at the Sojourner Center until she could find permanent pet-friendly housing.

Arizona Pet Project

Everyone Deserves A Furry Friend

The amazing folks at the Arizona Pet Project believe everyone deserves to experience the love and joy that comes with having a pet. That’s why they are willing to help people in all sorts of different situations. Take Wanda, for example. She fell in love with a rowdy shelter pup named Baby.

Wanda wanted to give Baby an amazing home, but she needed help purchasing supplies. She reached out to the Arizona Pet Project, and they provided her with a crate, pee pads, and nutritious puppy food to help Baby grow up strong and healthy.

Arizona Pet Project

How Does The Arizona Pet Project Do What They Do?

This unique organization got its start in 2001 as the Friends of Animal Care & Control Maricopa County. At the time, Phoenix area shelters were taking in approximately 105,000 dogs and cats each year and euthanizing about 70,000. To stem the influx of homeless pets, they became a shelter prevention agency offering free spay and neuter services. With the puppy and kitten problem under control, shelter intake numbers dropped to less than 50,000 pets per year and less than 9,000 euthanized.

Already a tremendous success, the team began to tackle issues facing older pets. They focused on community problems and created intervention programs to keep pets safely at home. Through a mix of grants and private donations, the Arizona Pet Project uses its partnerships with various human service agencies to provide temporary boarding, fostering services, pet deposits, emergency veterinary care, pet food and supplies, animal control fees, and much more.

Arizona Pet Project

Where To Find Support In Your Area

While there aren’t many organizations like the Arizona Pet Project, people outside the Phoenix area can still find help. If you or someone you know is facing the loss of a pet, check out the resources in this post from the Humane Society of the United States.

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