MultCoPets to Aid Homeless Families' Pets

In preparation for the cold winter La Nina promises, Multnomah County Animal Services is partnering with the Humane Society of the United States to provide 40 animal crates to the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross to accommodate homeless families with pets. The Red Cross Emergency Warming Center will be located at the Imago Dei Church, 1302 SE Ankeny, when cold weather conditions meet designated targets, typically when the temperature falls below 32 degrees. The shelter will accommodate 150 people and up to 40 pets. This is the only emergency warming shelter in Portland to accommodate pets.

“We enthusiastically support the expansion of this service to accommodate the entire family, including their pets.” says Mike Oswald, Director at Multnomah County Animal Services. “Even in the most severe weather conditions, including Hurricane Katrina, pet owners would not abandon their pets to enter warming centers unable to accept them. By accommodating pets, we are not only saving animal lives, but human lives.” 

In a Housing and Urban Development 2008 analysis, Oregon had the highest homeless rate in the United States. The official homeless numbers were grim: 16,221 homeless individuals on a one-night head count of shelters. This figure is likely only half of the total picture, as according to state statistics, less than half of the state’s homeless are sheltered on any given night. In the most recent homeless count conducted in January of 2009 by the Portland Housing Bureau and the Multnomah County Department of Human Services, an estimated 2,500 Portland area residents experience homelessness. 

“Each year, we see homeless individuals entering our warming shelter with children and pets,” says Curtis Peetz, Emergency Services Specialist at the Oregon Trail Chapter. “We are pleased with the opportunity to partner with Multnomah County Animal Services to provide this critical service to those in need.” 

Multnomah County Animal Services protects the health, safety and welfare of people and pets by providing compassionate and essential services including licensing, spay/neutering, adoptions, training, education, outreach, lost and found, animal rescue and protection. 

For more information on warming centers visit 211info.org, dial 211 on any phone. For more information on Multnomah County Animal Services visit Multcopets.org.