Heartbreaking for All
For decades, families in Denver public housing neighborhoods have been isolated from basic veterinary care. Adding to the daily struggles of living on the other side of privilege are new ones that come with animals – not registering or hiding unregistered pets, or quickly foisting them onto a friend or relative who doesn’t really want them only to end up eventually in a shelter; watching animals trying to survive on the street or dying there; and finally, all the litters of puppies and kittens that make the situation unmanageable. If these situations are difficult for adults to stomach, just imagine what it’s like for children. But one day things began to change . . .
Child by Child, Family by Family, Animal by Animal
Children began seeking help for animals and we responded. We then began to bring children to veterinarians where they observed surgeries and learned about animal needs and animal careers. Next a public housing maintenance worker asked for help with stray cats. We spayed/neutered then found homes. He told a resident and we took care of more cats. Soon a manager asked for help with enabling residents to keep their pets and comply with the pet policy. Between veterinary expenses and the pet deposit, most families couldn't afford it. So, we provided free veterinary services and the all important veterinary certificate. Slowly families began to register their pets and keep them. Soon, word began to spread throughout all of Denver public housing by the people who live there – to large row neighborhoods, high rises, senior living, and dispersed housing. In time, together we crafted an effective animal health care program that has been ever since sustained by the people who live and work in Denver public housing. Ten years and hundreds of animals later, entire neighborhoods have undergone change by the people who live and work there - mothers, grandmothers, fathers, children, aunts, uncles, cousins and managers, service coordinators, administrative assistants, maintenance workers.