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The Journal Gazette

  • Wrigley regularly visits Charis House residents.  

  • A Charis House resident visits with Wrigley.

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Pastor Bob Herman and 7-month-old golden retriever Wrigley make regular visits to Charis House.

Sunday, July 22, 2018 1:00 am

Shelters weigh allowing pets

YWCA, Charis House work with SPCA to find foster care

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

There has been a lot of conversation recently at the Rescue Mission about allowing pets to stay at its shelters.

Toni Lovell, vice president of programs for the Rescue Mission, says there are many things to consider when allowing pets at such places as Charis House, which offers women and children who are in a homeless crisis a place to stay. Two of the biggest issues are fear of dogs and allergies.

Charis House, 431 Fairmount Place, is not a domestic violence shelter, but it does work with the YWCA when it comes to providing women a safe place to stay, Lovell says. If a woman is out of danger, she can shift to living at Charis House, which can provide a more long-term housing solution.

The agency also works with the Allen County SPCA, which offers a foster program for residents who have animals, Lovell says.

Lovell says women needing animal support is not that common for Charis House. In the 19 years she has been with the Rescue Mission, Lovell has seen only three or four situations.

The YWCA gets about two to three calls a month from women wanting to bring their pets with them to the shelter, says Carla Kilgore, director of residential and crisis services. However, it would be challenging to accommodate pets because of the limited space and concern for residents' safety and allergies, Kilgore says.

Currently the YWCA has 73 people staying at its 66-bed shelter, she says. Kilgore says the agency has packed the space to try and serve as many people as possible.

“We're sensitive to the issue that people are very attached to their pets,” Kilgore says. “When they are considering fleeing for their own safety, they are concerned about how will their pet stay safe?”

The YWCA also works with the SPCA to find a foster care provider for a resident's pet. Kilgore says the YWCA continually reviews its policy to see whether there is a way to be more helpful for the women it serves. Both agencies accommodate people with service animals.

Lovell says she knows that many people are animal lovers. “We love animals,” says Lovell, which is why some staffers occasionally bring in their dogs for a therapeutic visit with residents.

Pastor Bob Herman brings his 7-month-old golden retriever, Wrigley, to Charis House. He has been doing this since Wrigley was only a few months old.

The Rescue Mission would love to be able to accommodate all the shelters' animal lovers, Lovell says, which is another reason for the recent pet discussion. But, so far, that's all it's been – discussion.

“We've not gotten to that point yet,” says Lovell about allowing pets.