Grand Junction, CO – Roice-Hurst Humane Society and HomewardBound of the Grand Valley are joining forces to provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness with their pets through the innovative Homeward Hounds project. This first-of-its-kind collaboration ensures people don’t have to choose between avoiding extreme temperatures on the streets and keeping their beloved companion animals.
Thanks to a grant secured by Roice-Hurst from PetSmart Charities, 10 pet-friendly, climate-controlled ‘Pallet shelters’ have been erected at HomewardBound’s North Avenue location off the day shelter (2853 North Ave, Grand Junction). The Homeward Hounds project launched with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, December 4 at 4:30pm, followed by tours of the shelters. Representatives from RHHS, HBGV, PetSmart Charities, and public officials spent the first night in the shelters with shelter dogs from Roice-Hurst.
Because non-service animals cannot be accommodated inside HBGV’s facilities due to the congregate dorm-style setup, individuals with pets must make the difficult choice between separating from their beloved pets or risking personal safety by staying out in the elements. The Homeward Hounds project allows houseless pet owners to sleep securely in a private room with their pets – something no other homeless shelter in the country accommodates.
“We gathered with our board earlier this year for a strategic retreat and one of our priorities for the next five years was to figure out ways to serve people with animals,” Greg Moore, HBGV Executive Director, said. “Lo and behold, about three weeks later, I got a call from Anna Stout with this idea and it seemed like a divine moment to me. Everyone in the community sees the need, and now we have come together to meet this need in a unique and very cost-efficient way. This is the answer we’ve been looking for.”
Each 8’x8’ Pallet shelter is private, climate-controlled and located within a fenced and badge-controlled area at HBGV, alongside a gravel yard for dogs. The shelters are reserved specifically for individuals with pets. Additionally, RHHS will maintain a stocked pet pantry with pet food and supplies at HBGV, and free pet vaccines provided by Street Dog Coalition and administered by RHHS will be available to pets in the program, along with other wrap-around human and pet services from both organizations.
“Our core values at Roice-Hurst include collaboration and leadership, and we see both of those at work in this incredible partnership with HomewardBound for this groundbreaking new program to keep pets and their people together, regardless of their living situation,” Anna Stout, RHHS CEO, says. “The human-animal bond is so crucial and being able to keep a pet out of our animal shelter while preserving that bond and literally keeping people from freezing to death in the process is pretty incredible.”
Homeward Hounds is made possible thanks to a $149,000 grant awarded to RHHS by PetSmart Charities and additional support from Kaplan Family Foundation and other local funders. “We’re thrilled to be able to support funding for pets to shelter with the people they love,” Aimee Gilbreath, President of PetSmart Charities, said. “Homeward Hounds allows people in need of services to access them by providing shelter for them and their pets, together. People experiencing homelessness can be extremely attached to their pets —and many would rather face the cold than leave them behind. We believe this can serve as a model for others to demonstrate that pets are part of the family, and serving the family together benefits everyone. It’s such a honor to be asked to stay overnight in one these adorable Pallet shelters – complete with a foster shelter pet for the night to serve as an ambassador to others!”
HomewardBound of the Grand Valley is a nonprofit homeless shelter that provides dignified housing, nutritious meals, healthcare, work opportunities, and recovery assistance to the Grand Valley community. HBGV operates the largest homeless shelter between Denver and Salt Lake City.
Roice-Hurst Humane Society is a nonprofit animal shelter and adoption center that provides housing, individualized behavioral and medical treatment, and daily care for homeless dogs and cats in Grand Junction and Delta, as well as resources for pet owners to prevent pet surrenders to the shelter and promote bonds between pets and their people.
About PetSmart Charities®
PetSmart Charities is committed to making the world a better place for pets and all who love them. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps nearly 600,000 pets connect with loving families each year. PetSmart Charities also provides grant funding to support organizations that advocate and care for the well-being of all pets and their families. Our grants and efforts connect pets with loving homes through adoption, improve access to affordable veterinary care and support families in times of crisis with access to food, shelter and emergency relief. Each year, millions of generous supporters help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities directly at PetSmartCharities.org, while shopping at PetSmart.com, and by using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting more than $475 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for the past 17 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of rated charities.