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LA's Midnight Mission Is Building A Park For Homeless People's Pets In Santa Ana

Two residents at The Courtyard, a homeless shelter in Santa Ana, with their pet dog
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A Southern California homeless shelter is building something pretty rare - a space for people's pets.

The Midnight Mission, which operates The Courtyard shelter in Santa Ana, received a $65,000 grant from the Nationwide Foundation, which they will use to build "a small dog and cat park in the shelter," Katie Norris, the organization's director of philanthropy, explained to KPCC's Take Two.

It will be a place for the animals to play and relieve themselves, and where veterinary services would be available.

Just a handful of shelters in the region are able to welcome pets, according to Lori Weise with Downtown Dog Rescue, which assists homeless people with their animals in Skid Row and South L.A.

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"Human shelters are already so overcrowded, so to introduce something such as a big dog into the situation is very challenging," she said. "There also might be other people who are scared of animals, or are allergic."

On the streets, organizations like hers provide access to pet licenses, spay and neuter services, food and more. But it's not uncommon for Weise to encounter people who refuse to give up their pet in exchange for a roof over their heads.

"Their pet is what keeps them going," she said. "Their pet is that unconditional love that they might not feel from friends or family."

When The Courtyard's pet area debuts this fall, homeless advocates like Norris hope it will remove a barrier that keeps people from getting the help they need.

"We want to eliminate whatever intake requirements we can to make it easier for people to enter shelters," she said.

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