PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Walking down the streets in Philadelphia you can see the city has a homeless crisis. But there may be an issue that hasn't been considered. Some of the homeless won't go to shelters because they can't bring their pets.
FOX 29's Bill Anderson met some of those people as well as a woman who is trying to raise funds to keep people together with their pets.
Professor and homeless activist Stephanie Sena wants to see us all work together,
"What we really need right now is for the whole city to come together and to care for each other and say we won't let people die on the streets and that includes people with their pets," she told FOX 29.
We've seen so many trying to help the homeless. From free haircuts, groups providing meals and opportunities for jobs. However, Stephanie tells us that one issue that we've all probably seen, so far hasn't been addressed.
"There are no shelters for humans and their pets. We see that people will make the calculation that they'd rather stay out on the street and sometimes that means freeze out on the street rather than be separated from their only companion"
Stephanie Sena is a professor Villanova and teaches about homeless advocacy. Together with her students they launched the Student Run Emergency Housing Unit Of Philadelphia. Since then they've helped hundreds but recently something struck a nerve when she met a homeless man on Delaware Avenue.
"The man had an umbrella, but was shading his dog. The dog was laying on a blanket and had some water and dog food but the man didn't have any food."
The man told Stephanie that he wouldn't go into a shelter because he wouldn't leave behind his best friend. This encounter and others inspired her to start raising funds for Philadelphia's first shelter for humans and pets.
"We have institutional knowledge of what it takes to run a shelter and what it takes to get people back on their feet. But what we really need now is a building," she explained.
And now, people are coming together to raise the funds but after speaking to Stephanie, Anderson wanted to see firsthand what inspired her. While walking through the city Anderson met a young homeless woman named Valerie sitting with her dog on 3rd street in Old City.
"Last January, we lost our apartment since then I've been struggling to find housing because it's hard with my dog."
She's had a rough go of it. In between crashing with friends and family and the streets, but like Stephanie said she won't seek a shelter without her dog.
"Having my dog is like she never turns her back on me. She's the one thing that I have that's solid."
Valerie is one of many that Stephanie is trying to help. Sending the message that down on your luck shouldn't mean abandoning your best friend. They have the volunteers, skills and desire and now they're hoping we'll all help with the resources…for goodness sake.
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