Homelessness amid the pandemic. There’s over 1,500 individuals and families who are homeless on any given night in Palm Beach County. And now there’s a growing concern for both people and pets.
This week a Jupiter animal welfare society gave two pets emergency shelter, even with a “take-in” hold. And they have growing concerns about the uncertain cost of pet ownership amongst the homeless.
It’s the start of the day and Sean Jeremy is in a public parking lot strategically packing everything he’s got.
”It’s unbelievable,” Jeremy said. “I’m in transition, my car needs maintenance and I’m constantly weighing my options.”
As of Sept. 30 he’s now one of the county’s uncounted homeless living in his Toyota priced out by rising rent.
”It’s not affordable. Period,” Jeremy said.
Sean lost his home and on Monday he temporarily surrendered his cats.
”It’s not just the people — it’s their pets. A lot of people have had to give up their pets and who knows dropping off their pets on the side of the road and leaving them,” Jeremy said.
Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic and Ranch, the Humane Society of Greater Jupiter and Tequesta whose mission is to rescue, rehab and re-home is feeling the homelessness ripple effect.
”I think I was the fifth or sixth shelter that he’d contacted. Every place has been pretty packed,” said Pat Deshong, Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic and Ranch president. “If we don’t something soon it’s going to get out of hand.”
Now add the number of adoptions that have slowed amid COVID. Deshong says they’d usually do 3,000 adoptions a year. That number now stands at 1,600.
“We were really on an intake hold and we still are,” Deshong said. ”I want people to realize how their stress translates to these animals. Animals can’t meditate. They don’t know how to take a deep breath and process that. And what do they do — they lash out.”
Furry Friends has agreed to keep Sean’s cats until he gets a roof over his head, meanwhile they’re also looking big picture and they want to see more done across the county to reach transient people like him.
”My heart breaks for the people that have to give up their animals because they can’t take care of them. So that’s why I think if our community can help us, can help all the shelters by giving generously so we can keep our doors open so we can help them,” Deshong says.
To help support the mission or to learn more about Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic and Ranch click here.