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California Senate Approves Bill To Help Homeless Shelters Cover The Cost Of Pets

Homeless people stand among their items along 17th Street in San Diego, Sept....

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Homeless people stand among their items along 17th Street in San Diego, Sept. 19, 2017.

— California state Senators on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would provide $5 million to help shelters better serve homeless pet owners.

Senate Bill 258 will next move to the state Assembly where it is awaiting committee assignment.

The bill would provide grants to California homeless shelters through the Department of Housing and Community Development. The grants would help cover the costs of providing shelter, food and basic veterinary care for pets whose owners are homeless.

In San Diego, the Alpha Project estimates 10% of the people in their shelter own a pet. Chief Operating Officer Amy Gonyeau said they allow pets because not doing so can be a deterrent for people to access services.

“Our philosophy is, as long as your pet is behaving, you're taking care of it and it’s not disrupting, we have a lot of tolerance,” she told KPBS on Monday. “Now as soon as that does happen we have to do something about that.”

Gonyeau said the Alpha Project does not set aside funds specifically to care for these animals so this funding would be a big help.

“The more services that we can give people the better,” she said. “Even when it gets cold out, you need doggy jackets, because your dog is outside in the rain and it’s cold. So, there’s a lot of ancillary things we could purchase for the clientele supply-wise but we could even provide some help to the animals themselves.”

The Humane Society has a complete guide of the services available for those who may need help.

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