INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — When it gets brutally cold outside, it can be dangerous for homeless people living outside. But there’s also a huge amount of animals living in homeless camps.
Two women in Indianapolis work with the Humane Society and the Street Outreach Animal Response Initiative or SOAR, to make sure homeless pets survive the winter.
Heather Hamilton and Anglea Hopson’s work is so important because many times pets are reason people stay outside in the cold.
“It’s very dangerous and a lot of the people won’t go into shelter because they don’t want to leave their pets out here. Their pets are like family,” said Hamilton.
Almost every week, Healther Hamilton and Angela Hopson load up supplies and visit homeless camps around the city. The colder it is, the more often they’ll check in on dogs like “Pretty Girl” and their owners. The camps are hidden away, far out of sight. It takes a trek down ice-covered rocks to get there and then there’s the steep climb back up.
“It’s very important for me to be able to help the pets and the people that don’t have anybody else to help them,” said Heather Hamilton with the Humane Society of Indianapolis.
Hamilton says it’s a bigger problem than people realize. There are 10 to 15 camps around Indianapolis with large amounts of pets. One couple has 25 cats living with them.
“A lot of the times these people have these pets and it’s their only companions. So it’s very important for the pets to be healthy because the people rely on the pets as much as the pets rely on the people,” said Hamilton.
So Hamilton and Hopson bring food, toys and medicine to the animal. They even take the pets to be spayed or neutered. Most importantly, by taking the time to care for the animals often overlooked, they build trust with one of the most vulnerable communities in Indianapolis.
“A lot of people think that it’s a choice for these people to be out here, in this extreme weather and some of them have just fell on hard luck,” said Hamilton.
The team often works to place the animals in homes, to help their owners can get back on their feet and into housing. The cost all covered by grants and donations. If you want more information about how you can help visit IndyHumane’s website or SOAR’s Facebook page.