Here's an overview of our work at SAFPAW.
ANIMAL TRANSPORT, CARE, VACCINES, SPAYS AND NEUTERS
Our weekly Spay/Neuter Transport operates every week. Pets are spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated, dewormed, treated for fleas & ticks and they get their nails trimmed. This service, along with the transportation, is free of charge to those we serve. To date, we have fixed and vaccinated more than 10,000 dogs and cats in Davidson County, Tennessee and that number continues to grow.
SAFPAW also helps with basic pet care needs such as pet food, collars & leashes, litter boxes, dog houses, straw or cedar shavings. In addition, with our two amazing partners, we are able to provide free grooming so that dogs won’t suffer with painful, and sometimes dangerous, mats. Our groomers can take a poor, dirty dog and transform them into not only a beauty but also a dog that feels like a million bucks!
SAFPAW provides pet food and supplies to homeless pet owners as well as pet owners living at or below the poverty level. While we still offer veterinary care for free to these folks (based on income of lack thereof), we will not offer vaccination or wellness services if they do not allow us to also spay or neuter their pet. Animals must be already fixed or we must be allowed to have them fixed to qualify for our free services. We fund our Spay & Neuter Program through grants but we also need operating costs for pet transports, emergency vet care, and our transitional recovery house for women—Perian's Place.
Our homeless outreach began in 2010 and we made it an official part of our organization in 2012. We were already helping in small ways—buying propane or kerosene heaters, fuel, tents, sleeping bags, food boxes. And we had already started with giving rides to cut down on how many miles a day someone had to walk to find help.
It just made sense when we looked at it through lenses of compassion. We were helping companion animals so that they could have a better life. How could we then bring that dog or cat back to their family without seeing how we could make their human companion’s life better?
Our homeless outreach focuses on several areas of need. The first is to help them survive the streets. We provide outdoor‚ camping‚ heaters‚ fuel‚ tents‚ sleeping bags‚ camping stoves‚ food boxes‚ jugs of water and other items essential to basic needs. Socks & shoes are items of major importance—especially when we learned how many miles a day the average homeless person has to walk. We help them with transportation or bus passes. We also provide pet food & basic pet care needs if they have a pet.
We help them to regain the 3 forms of ID that are critical to everyone—state ID or TDL, birth certificate, and Social Security card. Not only do regaining these documents cost money (with the exception of a free SS card) but the expense of trying to get back & forth to the offices is pretty time-consuming and costly. Of course, most birth certificates can only be acquired online, which is impossible when you live in a tent or on the streets. Without these forms of ID, several things can happen. The worst is an arrest if asked by police for ID & they are unable to produce. Homeless people often cannot find a job, housing, get a food box or even rent a hotel room without an ID. So starting over and getting back on their feet starts with ID.
Then we help folks get housing. We help navigate the application process and pay the application fee. We help put together all the documents needed to apply. We drive them to the application interview, and help with that process as they need us to. When they are told that their application was accepted & they are now on the waiting list, we act as a contact person so they need not worry if the minutes on their cell (if they have a cell) are up for the month. We help pay deposits as our funding allows. Some subsidized housing requires one utility to be the tenant’s responsibility, while some provide utilities. But there is always a deposit for the apartment, and that can be a huge barrier to moving in at all.
Then we help with the move in day! We help provide basics needs so that their new apartment feels like home—and not an empty room. We also provide transportation so that they can get to their new home to move in!
All of this can cost around $1000 for every move in. But the rewards—they are glorious! To see someone get their key, to watch them turn it and know that they will not be sleeping on the streets again. This is a celebration each and every time. And you can play a critical role in making sure this year has many homecoming celebrations!
SAFPAW helps 160 homeless pets find permanent indoor homes each year through our foster program at our new transitional recovery house for women.