At The Waters, resident Shirley enjoys companion animal visits from Secondhand Hope and also has her own rescue dog, Bella.
When a rescue or shelter dog claims his permanent spot in your heart and home, “who rescued whom?” is a common question. We’re grateful to rescues for their role in bringing pups — and all their unique, (hilarious, ridiculous, tennis ball-obliterating, treat-scarfing) joy-bringing antics — into our lives. But introducing us to our furry family members isn’t all Minnesota dog shelters and rescues do for pet lovers — after all, the more support given to dog owners themselves, the better off their dogs will be. Here are just a few programs that help dog-lovin’ hoomans, too:
Animal Humane Society: Help for pet owners + pet helpline
In Golden Valley, the Animal Humane Society’s Community Outreach program is dedicated to helping pet owners in need keep their four-legged friends healthy. AHS hosts free wellness clinics offering vaccines, nail trims, general exams, and more. It also connects pet owners with low-cost spay and neuter surgeries and provides free pet transportation to vet appointments.
In addition, AHS hosts a free Pet Helpline (952-HELP-PET) that provides caring, compassionate advice and resources to help with everything from solving behavior problems to finding pet-friendly housing. In 2017, the helpline handled a whopping 72,149 incoming calls. So pawesome!
Secondhand Hounds: Companion animal visits for seniors
In Minnetonka, Secondhand Hounds’ Secondhand Hope program regularly brings qualified dogs and cats to spend some quality time with residents at 29 assisted living communities and senior care centers across the metro area. Program coordinator Cassie Satele says the visits are great for residents’ physical and mental health.
“Blood pressure decreases, endorphins are released, and sometimes overall physical pain can be diminished with regular animal interactions,” Satele says. “Our visits are also an excellent time for socialization, for both the folks we see and the pups. We have also seen communication increases in memory care patients, and lessened depression and loneliness.” Long-term residents often build lasting relationships with the pets and volunteers. Some residents even keep treats in their rooms just for the pets who come to visit.
Among the most rewarding benefits for Satele is seeing how the animals help residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. As one volunteer put it, “At my [recent] visit with Vincent [the dog], a resident who has not been very verbal for months …was up. When we visited, she spoke her first full sentence in … a long time. She said, ‘I want a puppy.’ Over and over, she kept saying that the whole time. It was amazing.”
Corner of Kindness: Pet care assistance
An unexpected expense or job loss can sometimes make it hard for pet owners to purchase the food and supplies they need to give their pets the best care paw-sible. That’s where Corner of Kindness in St. Bonifacius, MN, has stepped in. Its Public Assistance program gives pet care supplies like food, toys, treats, leashes, and litter boxes to the pet owners who need them, and offers financial assistance for spaying and neutering.
The nonprofit current has locations in Minnesota and South Carolina, and a third location in Georgia will open in January 2019.
Coco’s Heart: Pet care assistance + rescue education
Coco’s Heart’s Coco’s Cares program also offers financial assistance for pet owners, including veterinary care and supplies, and boarding sponsorships for families in between dog-friendly housing situations.
The nonprofit is dedicated to teaching the next generation about animal rescue. Coco’s Heart Academy volunteers bring rescue dogs to schools and church groups to speak with children about the importance of rescue and what they can do to help. They assist groups in making dog toys for the dogs in Coco’s Heart’s rescue program, too.
A Rotta Love Plus: Spaying and neutering + education
A Rotta Love Plus is committed to helping Rottweilers and pit bull breeds and their people through several initiatives, including Get Your Fix! free spay and neuter fairs in neighborhoods with limited resources. The fairs also offer free vaccinations, microchips, and high-quality, sturdy leashes and collars in exchange for old and fraying ones, helping keep these pups safe and healthy.
The rescue’s Dog Safety/Humane Education program brings registered therapy dogs to schools and organizations with a hands-on curriculum designed to increase knowledge about humane treatment of animals and reduce the risk of dog bites. The impact of this work will be felt for generations, and that’s nothing to sniff at.
A pawful of other animal welfare nonprofits helping humans:
Home for Life: Pet therapy for children and adults recovering from violence and trauma
Home for Life is an animal sanctuary in Stillwater, MN, that lets nearly 200 dogs and cats who are not ideal adoption candidates live out their lives in comfort on 40-plus picturesque acres along the Apple River. The nonprofit’s Peace Creatures program provides free pet therapy to children and adults, including returning military members, seniors, those hospitalized for chronic or terminal disease, and families who have experienced domestic violence.
The program especially focuses on demonstrating peaceful conflict resolution and a “model of empathy” to community members who have been exposed to trauma and violence, as they are among the most susceptible to perpetuating the cycle of animal abuse and neglect. Home for Life’s Peace Creatures program currently provides free pet therapy to more than 1,000 children and nearly 4,000 adults each year.
People and Pets Together: Pet food and pet vaccines
Established as a pet surrender prevention program, People & Pets Together in Minneapolis is the state’s first pet food shelf and resource center. It offers free pet food at nine locations across the state, and regular, subsidized pet vaccination clinics to help keep people and their four-legged friends together.
My Pit Bull Is Family: Pet care fund
Created by a Minneapolis landlord, this nonprofit is dedicated to ending housing and insurance discrimination against all dog breeds. In August 2018, it also created Together at Home, a fund to assist families in need with pet-related costs, such as pet deposits for apartment residents, training costs, legal fees regarding ADA and FHA policies, and occasional home repairs.
In one example, Ray and his pup Lexxie left their apartment complex due to breed discrimination and made an RV their permanent home. When the RV needed $600 in repairs that Ray could not afford, the Together at Home fund covered the cost to keep their family together.
Tell us in the comments: What nonprofits do you see working as hard for humans as they do for doggos? We want deets!
Next up: head to our Dog-Friendly Twin Cities online community for super local, pooch-centric chat with the some of the best people we know – dog people.