Helping pets of the homeless

Posted at: 02/18/2013 7:58 AM
Updated at: 02/18/2013 8:00 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4

When you think of homeless people in the city, you may not think of the pets that often accompany them and the food and care they need. But that's exactly what one non-profit aims to do.

"Every dog or cat will get a treat and a toy before they leave," said one volunteer.

It's check-up time for dozens of Albuquerque pets. But when these dogs and cats are done, they're not going home to a warm bed.

"All lot of these owners can't go to the shelters because they have animals, so they chose to sleep outside because they can't bring their pets in with them," said Dr. Veronica Bingamon, DVM. She's with ABQ PetCare.

Margaret Keller of the local chapter of Pets of the Homeless added, "You know, you see them on the sidewalks and what not with their pets, and they're everything to them."

Keller said these animals provide something beneficial to the homeless; companionship. "They get the love that they're not seeing and they don't get the judgment that they're seeing all the time."

Keller says people often ask her why she doesn't focus on the people. Her answer is simple. "There's so many great agencies that are helping out, trying to help out the people, but there really are very few that are helping out the animals."

That's why she teamed up with St. Martin's Hospitality Center and ABQ PetCare. They came together for an animal clinic to "make sure that these pets are vaccinated in case they do come into contact with other pets," said Keller.

Dr. Bingamon added, "We're helping out people, we're helping our community but most of all, we're helping the pets."

The three groups are hoping to expand their clinic. They want to include necessary grooming as well as education on spaying and neutering.