New initiative focuses on helping pets of homeless
By Heather Graves
BROWN COUNTY – A lot of attention, especially recently, has been put on helping the homeless population.
But Joshua Jablonski, CEO and founder of the Hidden Paws Network, said the pets of individuals who struggle with homelessness are being forgotten.
“Toward the end of October, when the weather took an unseasonably cold downturn, we began receiving calls asking if we could watch the pets of people who could not get into the homeless shelter with their pets,” Jablonski said. “We received 15 phone calls in a 10-day period. We are neither equipped, nor able, to take care of any of the pets of the homeless, but the calls kept coming.”
To help these furry friends, Hidden Paws – an organization that serves pets of domestic violence and elder abuse victims while they transition into a safer environment – has launched Wanderer’s Companions.
The new initiative distributes food, blankets, sweaters and other pet supplies to homeless shelters in Brown County – none of which accept pets.
“Programs such as this exist in other parts of the country,” Jablonski said. ‘Unfortunately, it hadn’t begun in Northeast Wisconsin (until now).”
Jablonski said the HPN board of directors have been talking with the area’s shelters about alternative ideas for longer-term solutions.
“We would like to either help them transform one room into a pet area – we have offered to assume watching the animals during the time that the owner is in the homeless shelter,” he said. “We also suggested having someone donate a camper type vehicle to be kept in the shelter parking lot, equipped with kennels.”
Jablonski said he knows it might take a while for any of these ideas to be considered, so in the meantime, organizers are doing what they can to help.
He said supporters of HPN have been working on this for several weeks.
“We put out a call for blankets and pet sweaters on our new Facebook group, Wanderer’s Companions, and on the Hidden Paws Network Facebook page,” Jablonski said. “We were surprised at the number of really good people in and out of Brown County that want to help us.”
But, he said help is still needed.
Wanderer’s Companions is currently accepting donations of pet food, pet toys, blankets and dog sweaters, as well as cash donations.
Jablonski said the group is also looking for volunteers to help knit or crochet blankets or sweaters for dogs.
Donations can dropped off at any other following locations:
• For the Dogs Groomers, 2253 Woodale Ave., Green Bay.
• Petco East, 2390 E. Mason St., Green Bay.
• The Eclectic Market, 153 N. Broadway Ave., Green Bay.
• Badger State Brewing Market (every Wednesday after the first of the year).
• Veterinary House Calls, 519 E. Cedar St., Pulaski (Tuesdays and Fridays only).
• KI Winter Market (second and fourth Saturdays in January and February).
• The Two Spoiled Danes Bakery stand at the Winter Market on Military (on the first and third Saturdays of the month).
Jablonski said the group will also be offering a free, monthly vet clinic for the pets of the homeless.
The first clinic will take place from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, at the Eclectic Market, 153 N. Broadway Ave. in downtown Green Bay.
Jablonski said the wellness clinic will include an exam and any necessary vaccinations.
The clinic is open by referral only. Those interested can call 920-391-5695 by Jan. 11 to receive a referral.
More information on Wanderer’s Companions, as well as the Hidden Paws Network can be found on their Facebook pages.