James has been living without a home for four years. In that time he has relied on his dog, Envy, for love, protection, warmth, and companionship. She is not only his dog, she is his best friend and family. His relationship with her has been more stable and consistent than any other relationship he has had for a long time.
James is one of a staggering 6,000 homeless people who survive on the streets of Toronto. At least 300 of these people care for pets. Their bonds with their animal companions is profound and they will often go without food, sacrificing their own needs to meet the needs of their pets.
Paw it Forward is an organization that understands this bond and they know that the relationship between homeless people and their pets runs deep. They also understand the challenges of pet ownership on the streets. Volunteers, supported by Paw it Forward and VCA Animal Hospitals took to the streets of Toronto one very cold night to deliver pet food, gift cards, and comfort items to those in need of help. What they discovered that night was something that they didn’t all quite expect.
These volunteers spoke to the people and heard their stories and their challenges and listened to them explain the difficulties of making a life on the city streets. James explained that mental illness and being victims of abuse is a common thread among the homeless. He talked from the heart about what his dog, Envy, means to him and how she changed his life. He said that he is much safer since he got her and that she is more than family to him.
Anne talked with pride about how she rescued her dog, Lucky, who is 11 years old. Cory lovingly spoke about his wonderfully intelligent dog, Molly, and what a great companion she is for him.
Spero and Charles shared their concern about how the streets are dangerous in ways that we might not fully appreciate. “At night,it’s never safe”. Holly and Berry are two affectionate cats who are adored by their owner, a person wishing to remain unnamed, but who says the cats are a bright spot in very difficult times.
The volunteers walked the streets and visited shelters to meet the folks in this video. What they learned was that Toronto, like most major cities, has more homeless people than most of us realize, and that each one of these people has a face and a story. Each one also has a heart full of love for the pets that they care for.
Most pet owners feel a profound bond with their animals, but for those living on the streets, relationships with other people can be difficult to find and the relationship with their pet can take on an even more crucial role in their lives. For some, it is all that they have.
All proceeds from this video will be provided to James and Envy and Paw it Forward. Please share the link.
Support for James and Paw it Forward can also be provided directly through David at firstname.lastname@example.org