For four months, Lisa was living in her car after being evicted for not being able to pay rent. Lisa suffers from a psychiatric disorder that manifests in the form of anxiety and paranoia. Her economic situation and mental health challenges made it difficult for Lisa to seek treatment which in turn made it difficult to hold a steady job. Due to her economic constraints, Lisa did not have regular access her medication or seeing her doctor. Not having a proper treatment plan contributed to her mental health issues flaring up, which negatively impacted her ability to work. Lisa opted to put any money she did have, towards food for her dog and cat rather than feeding or housing herself.
When Lisa reached out to OFW in a panic, the staff realized she needed help. She was running out of food for her dog, Lucy, and her cat, Lime. With no family or friends and no financial supports she was at the end of her rope.
One Family Welfare staff provided emotional support to Lisa, letting her know that together, they would create a suitable plan to help both her and her pets. Eventually, after regular phone conversations, Lisa agreed to see a community nurse that would assess her mental health needs and create a suitable medication and check-in schedule. One Family Welfare staff also referred Lisa to a housing worker at a local women’s shelter.
After Lisa was set up with proper community supports One Family Welfare staff started to focus on her pets Lucy and Lime. Lisa was set up with an organization that provides free or low-cost veterinary services to at-risk populations and she was referred to a food bank that provides pet food.
Eight months later, Lisa contacted the One Family Welfare staff that helped her months prior. Lisa thanked the staff for “treating her like a human and not just a nobody”. Thanks to a housing subsidy, she moved into a place of her own and for the first time in a very long time she felt safe and happy.
Not everyone is comfortable accessing a shelter or leaving their pet(s) in the care of a program. Sometimes those in crisis prefer to stay with their pet(s) in a homeless situation. The Alberta SPCA and its One Family Welfare department believe that an individual still deserves access to community resources and referrals, no matter their situation.
Community resources and/or referrals can be accessed via phone, e-mail, or in an in-person meeting.
This story is not unique.
When in crisis, pet owners are often unable to focus on their own mental and physical wellbeing until they know that their companion animal will be safe. The Crisis Care Program provides reprieve to pet owners dealing with a life-changing event that impedes on their ability to care for their companion animal(s).
The Alberta SPCA’s Crisis Care Program was launched in 2019. This program is designed for individuals that have run out of safe options, it is a last resort program for individuals experiencing crisis and are unable to care for their animals temporarily.
Refuge should be available to everyone.