Animal Shelter Only Hires Homeless People and Is One of a Kind in the World

By: Nathan Grant

Over three years ago, Glenn Greenwald rescued Mabel – an injured dog along a road in the Rio de Janeiro forest.

Glenn and his husband, David Miranda, were already owners of seven dogs prior to adopting Mabel. Mabel ended up being pregnant, and so Glenn and David found loving homes for four of the six new puppies (keeping the other two puppies for themselves!).

Image Credit: Glenn Greenwald

After this experience, animal rescue became more important than ever to Glenn and David. Now, three years later, they are up to 23 dogs at home! Of course along the way, they have also fostered and worked on getting other dogs adopted and into loving homes.

Over the past 2 years, Glenn and David have paid mind to those that are homeless and living on the streets with their pets. Many people walk by homeless individuals every day and assume that their pet companions are mistreated or neglected. Glenn and David knew that in most cases, this was far from the truth.

Image Credit: Glenn Greenwald

Homeless people and their homeless pets form a unique bond. Such intense companionship is important during such hardship. Both homeless pet and owner share mutual needs and understand each other through any circumstance.

Image Credit: Heloisa Passos

Being a homeless individual with a pet also means being willing to make sacrifices. Food must be shared, no matter how hungry the pet owner feels. A sociology professor at the University of Colorado, Leslie Irvine, is studying the relationship between the homeless and their pets. Her book on the subject is titled My Dog Always Eats First. 

Image Credit: Youtube/Field of Vision

This bond and friendship was very important to Glenn and David, and so they created two short documentaries (directed by Oscar-winning director Laura Poitras). These documentaries documented two circumstances with homeless people and their devotion for their pets.

Image Credit: Youtube/Field of Vision

In the first documentary, the story follows an individual known as “Birdie” – an ex-convict selling fruit, living on the streets, and caring for his two dogs.

The second documentary shows “Karollyne” – a trans woman with a homeless family squatting amongst various abandoned buildings with their dogs, cats, monkeys, and other animals. Most of the animals cared for by Karollyne are rescued from abandonment.

To do something to help the homeless population and their pets, Glenn and David came up with a unique plan that does not exist anywhere else in the world. The idea was to create an animal shelter with all of the typical functions. It rescues animals in need, provides medical care, and finds loving homes with adoptive families – but there is one thing other shelters do not do.

Image Credit: Youtube/Field of Vision

Glenn and David’s shelter would be completely staffed by homeless people living on the streets with their pets. These individuals have shown their deep compassion for animals by caring for their pets in times of struggle. This would employ these individuals, helping to aid income for the homeless through permanent employment. This ends up helping both owner and pet!

Glenn and David have a hope to serve as a model and example for other places around the world. Seeing the impact their idea can make, progress can be made in many different cities.

Image Credit: Youtube/Field of Vision

Late last year, Glenn created a short film about a same-sex Brazilian couple looking to adopt a child that ended up having two older siblings. The father whose income supported the entire – Francisco David – family lost his job, and Glenn realized this was the perfect place to start the shelter idea. Francisco had been raised in poverty and understood Brazilian poverty. He had been a supervisor for construction projects, meaning he had the background necessary to get a blueprint together for the shelter.

Image Credit: Youtube/Field of Vision

Francisco became the shelter’s executive director. Following this, the first homeless staff was hired.

While Glenn was in Ipanema, he came across two homeless men, Lucas and Wallace. The two men had an ill puppy they were caring for with all the love in their hearts. The men worked hard going to many veterinarians to seek one that would care for the puppy free of charge – and fortunately one agreed to.

The dog had a serious virus because of the lack of vaccinations making the puppy susceptible.

Image Credit: Youtube/Field of Vision

Lucas, 20-years-old, had an adult dog of his own and became the shelter’s first homeless individual hired. Because of the salary the shelter ended up allowing him to receive, he was able to get an apartment and start a stable life.

Image Credit: Glenn Greenwald

The shelter quickly developed a partnership with the CREAS agency in Rio – an agency specializing in helping the homeless transition from the street to a stable life. By partnering with CREAS, employees at the shelter could be given temporary housing, clothing, and counseling services!

CREAS also will provide a way for new employees to get proper identification, bank accounts, and permanent stability for a better life off the streets.

Image Credit: Youtube/Field of Visions

Volunteer veterinarians, nurses, and rescue activists have been secured and are ready to get started. All of the necessities for a successful homeless-run shelter are in place.

All the shelter needs now is public support to get started. A campaign is getting started to begin getting the donations necessary to kick things off!

In Brazil, there is a severe economic crisis that leaves many homeless, but does not leave room for many services for the homeless. Most services that once existed for homeless people and pets have been cut for lack of funding.

Image Credit: Youtube/Field of Vision

Needless to say, fundraising is necessary from the public to get this shelter fully functioning. Money raised for startup is what allowed the first two staff members to be hired and what made it possible to begin the project.

Now the shelter needs around $250,000 to cover the cost of medical care for animals and salaries for the homeless employees.

Image Credit: Heloisa Passos

If you are interested in donating, there is a Go Fund Me. Help spread the word about this amazing idea in order to help fundraise as well as bring attention to the concept (so it can be replicated worldwide). Learn more about the project in this video:

Source: The Dodo 

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