LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock’s winter storm caused many homeless persons with pets to seek refuge in a place that accepted them and their animals alike.
Erica Hitt, social services director for the Salvation Army, said the snowstorm that hit Lubbock during the weekend caused their residential beds to fill to capacity. She said they assembled 38 cots for their Cold Cot Program for those who don’t normally reside at the Salvation Army.
Hitt said animals that are not registered as service animals are not typically allowed at their facilities. However, she said in an effort to help more people get warm, she came up with a plan.
“We got creative. Just to get them inside, we allowed these animals to be kenneled this spell, and that’s something that we are working on,” Hitt said. “We don’t want anything hindering these guys from coming in to get a cold cot.”
Angie Skinner, Director of Pets Clinic of Lubbock, works with the homeless to help provide resources to help their animals. She said it’s not unusual for homeless people to have a special connection with their pets.
“They provide an emotional support system which a lot of the homeless individuals do not find from other human beings because they’ve lost that trust and love in a human being,” said Skinner. “They’ll do anything for their pet, and a lot of them will feed their dog before themselves as well.”
Freddie De La Paz said he has been homeless for the past five years. He has three dogs he said he doesn’t go anywhere without.
“I feel very comfortable with them, I care a lot for them,” said De La Paz. “They take care of me at night.”
De La Paz said if there was ever a choice he had to make between seeking shelter and leaving his dogs, he would stay with his dogs and try to figure out another way to get warm.
“If they don’t accept my dogs, I am not going to go,” said De La Paz. “No matter where I stay, I’m not going to let them go.”