South Bay Homeless Shelter Goes Pet-Friendly With Help Of Corporate Neighbor

Life on the streets can be a lonely, dangerous existence.

It's why many homeless in the homeless community choose to keep pets with them: a dog, for example, can help with both of those problems.

But that same animal can also be a hindrance to getting off the streets.

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Unless the pet is a service or companion animal, homeless shelters will normally not allow them to stay in dormitories with their owners.The owner may also be reluctant to leave their pet on the streets in order to pursue leads for jobs or services.

It can create quite a Catch 22.

The CEO of the South Bay's largest shelter, Homefirst's Boccardo Reception Center, had an idea about how to solve the issue.

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"I've been calling it my pet project for a year," said Andrea Orton.

Her plan was to transform a little-used patio alongside the shelter into a small kennel, so clients with dogs and other pets would be able to stay there.


All she needed was the money and the man-power to make it happen. Her neighborhood Home Depot was happy to deliver both.

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"I'm always shopping there and one day it dawned on me to ask if they would like to help," said Orton.

Earlier this month a dozen volunteers from Home Depot, lead by manager Steven Vogel, showed up with enough materials to construct six dog kennels on the property, as well as clear out a small plot nearby for the dogs' use.

"We can give back to two different classes," Vogel said. "Giving back to people and their animals in times of need."

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James Cockayne says it is just what he, and his dachshund-mix, Gunny, need. Cokayne says he adopted the 4-month-old puppy while staying with some friends. When that arrangement ended, he couldn't afford anyplace else to live.

"We found ourselves on the street for a couple of days he really got me through it," Cockayne said.

Cockayne said getting rid of the dog, which had already grown so attached to, in order to stay in a shelter was not a choice he wanted to make. He's glad, thanks to Homefirst and Home Depot, it is he won't have to.

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