Homeward Hounds: the first homeless shelter of its kind
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Homeward Bound and the The Roice-Hurst Humane Society have partnered to work on a new project to provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness with their pets.
“This project is designed to make sure that regardless of your living situation,” said Roice-Hurst CEO Anna Stout. “That you can keep your family in tact and that includes all members of your family, even your pets.”
“We need to find a way to serve the population that we’re not serving,” said Homeward Bound Board Chairman Bill Wade. “We know there’s lots of people to whom their pets are very critical. We entered into conversations with Roice-Hurst and we have created here the first installation of its kind in the entire United States.”
The two organizations partnered up after seeing an unfulfilled need not only in the community, but throughout the country.
“When they end up in situations where they’re losing their home or they’re evicted or for whatever reason they’re experiencing homelessness,” said Stout. “A lot of people are faced with that incredibly difficult decision of letting go of a beloved pet in order to find shelter or having to stay out in the elements with their pet which is very unsafe for them. So what we wanted to do is figure out a way to remove that decision and you no longer have to choose to either keep united with your pet or keep yourself from freezing at night.”
Pallet shelters are used for homeless shelters around the country, but this is the first time there’s been a design specifically to serve people with pets. The new shelter will be called Homeward Hounds.
“When we talk about the role that a pet plays in our life, its not just companionship,” said Stout. “For many people it is that stability, its a grounding force. So when you lose everything and you are in a situation of homelessness, that animal might be the only thing connecting you to a feeling of stability, a feeling of hope, and a feeling of companionship. So pets are critical to our mental health and our emotional health. So there’s no reason that when you’re already experiencing something traumatic that you should have to lose your pet.”
Each one of the 10 8x8 pallet shelters is private, climate-controlled and located within a fenced and badge-controlled area at Homeward Bound on North Avenue in Grand Junction. There will also be a gravel yard for the dogs alongside the units. These shelters are reserved specifically for people with pets so they can stay together under one roof. The first of its kind anywhere in the country.
“Any of us can drive around town at any given moment and see many people on the streets that have pets,” said Stout. “It’s important to us that that bond is not broken. And we believe at Roice-Hurst that people should be able to keep their pets regardless of their situation. There are arguments some would make that if you can’t take care of yourself you shouldn’t have a pet, and that’s not the way we see that at all. Most people will feed their pets before they feed themselves. So we think that regardless of if you have a roof over your head or not, that does not impact if you are a good and loving pet owner.”
We spoke to one homeless resident about what she thinks of this new project.
“I have a lot of friends who are older who have pets who can’t stay at the shelters so I’m very glad to hear this,” said Tammy. “I worry about them a lot.”
We also asked her if she thinks this is going to benefit a lot of people.
“One of the reasons that I don’t stay there is because of him,” said Tammy. “Because he’s my whole life and I’m not going to be anywhere without him.”
Homeward Bound and Roice-Hurst hope this project is just the beginning of a much larger campus to serve more than just ten.
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