Thousands of DC residents live in pet service deserts with limited access to basic items like pet food, toys, and supplies. They also often lack nearby, affordable veterinary services to care for their animals. The Humane Rescue Alliance’s response to this situation is our HOPE (Help Out, Partner, and Engage) Program.
We started working in a single neighborhood, providing pet owners with free vaccines, spay/neuter surgeries, and supplies for their companion animals. Now, we're working to take this program even further.
A long-time volunteer and HRA supporter is matching every gift to the HOPE Program dollar for dollar up to $100,000.
Will you help us give HOPE to animals and people in need today?
For many, it is a critical lifeline that supports pet owners in their efforts to keep their animals happy, healthy, and in loving homes. What makes HOPE special is the embracing of the human component of the human-animal equation. It is, in essence, the perfect example of HRA's slogan: Animals. People. Community.
HOPE is built on the foundation of mutually respectful relationships and a strong, ongoing presence in the community. And that's where HOPE program manager Shakela Brown comes in. Brown spends part of her day in the community, going door to door, introducing herself to residents, and explaining how HOPE can help them care for their furry family members.
"It’s all about building relationships based on trust," Brown explains. "By approaching people in a respectful way and recognizing that people's love for their pets transcends socioeconomic circumstances and cultural differences, we can have a positive, long-term impact on the lives of both people and animals."
This impact is multiplied as clients spread the word about HOPE with friends, family, and neighbors. "The people who benefit from the program are the best ambassadors of HOPE I could ever ask for," says Brown. Other pet parents in the program's target areas learn about it when they call Animal Care and Control to surrender pets they feel they can no longer adequately care for. When given the resources they need, people often decide to keep their beloved pet.
While the free supplies and services provided by HOPE are a critical component of the program, clients are equally appreciative of expertise HRA is able to provide. Brown answers a wide range of questions on a daily basis, ranging from "What type of food should my dog eat?" to "Why is my cat scratching the furniture?" If she doesn't immediately know the answer, she consults with HRA's veterinary professionals and behavior-and-training staff and an answer to the client.
Such responsiveness encourages trust in Brown and in the project. It can also result in a lot of phone calls, as in the case of a client who lives in a senior community and who had received a cat from a nursing aide who was returning to her home country.
"The cat was in heat and my client called me all weekend concerned about the cat, who was shy and not used to her," Brown recalls with a smile. "She named her Shy Baby and picked up all types of toys, cat food, and even tuna, attempting to comfort the cat. After I picked the cat up for her spay surgery, she called me five times and was so relieved when I returned with the cat. Days later, the cat was affectionate and showing her so much love. She's thrilled and adores her Shy Baby."
Learn more about the Humane Rescue Alliance’s HOPE program.
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