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California Senator Aims to Shelter the Homeless by Including their Pets
by Joe Michaels
On any given night in California, more than 130,000 people are without a home. Walk through a homeless encampment and you'll find many of the residents with dogs or cats.
Gina Knepp of Sacramento's Front Street Animal Shelter knows most of those living on the streets aren’t shy about staying outside if a shelter won't let them bring their animal indoors.
“In most cases, that animal is the only connection to another living thing they have,” said Knepp.
Knowing an animal often gives a homeless person purpose; the Front Street Animal Shelter is providing food, services and microchipping for pets of those in Sacramento shelters.
“You have something that relies on you,” Knepp explained. “You may be at the worst possible point in your life, but this little four-legged creature is dependent on you.”
While the Front Street shelter is now providing for pets of Sacramento's homeless, Senator Bob Hertzberg wants to expand the effort and allocate $5 million for California shelters that will allow the homeless to bring their animals.
“Sometimes their closest relationship is with their pets,” said Hertzberg of the homeless. “You can’t ask somebody to walk away from that.”
Senator Hertzberg believes getting a person into a shelter is the first step toward a goal of self-sufficiency. He calls his new legislative effort, SB 258, a simple step that he believes will dramatically lower the number of people sleeping on the streets.