pet parenting

A Woof Over Their Heads

Nonprofit helps keep families together in tough times

Posted

Few things tug at my tail more than hearing stories of families who are forced to give up their pets simply because they cannot afford them. With more than a million dogs euthanized every year, it frustrates me that some pets wind up in shelters because of that. Fortunately, programs such as The Major Dog House Project, run by EPIC Outreach, are helping remove some of these barriers so pets and their humans stay together when times are tough.

EPIC Outreach exists to inspire compassion by sharing information through humane education, networking and outreach to create a kinder world for people, animals, and the environment. The project is aptly named after Major, a rescued dog that inspired his owners to want to give back and help more homeless dogs have a better life. Led by Janice Frank, Dave Howard and Joe Procopio, the project has prompted participants to build durable shelters from donated materials. These folks have the construction of doghouses down to a science, cranking out new digs to accommodate almost any size dog.

While doghouses can never take the place of keeping dogs inside and treating them like members of the family, the backyard structures can be the difference between life and death for dogs left outside.

Dogs, just like humans, are sensitive to the weather. Even dogs bred and built for rugged outdoor living can succumb to extreme conditions. They need a place that protects from heat, cold, rain and wind.

According to Jacksonville municipal code (§462.203 - Neglecting or abandoning animals), it’s illegal to not provide adequate shelter for dogs; violators face a hefty fine or, worse, risk losing their pet. EPIC Outreach has partnered with Animal Care & Protective Services to educate people about the needs of dogs, and for those dogs that must spend time outside, provide a more comfortable shelter. In addition to that, the organizations maintain an animal food pantry for families in need.

Unfortunately, many underserved neighborhoods lack access to basic pet care resources–they love their pets, but they haven’t funds to secure a healthy lifestyle. EPIC Outreach respects the bond between pets and people, proactively reaching out to these communities to build trusting relationships with families.

All kinds of folks need a helping paw from time to time. Providing a dog house is just one step to keep pets with those who love them; it leads to the pet being better cared for over time. No one should have to part with a pet just because their funds are low. True love is hard to find in this life—and the bond a person makes with an animal is the purest kind.

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Davi the dachshund believes that a dog in need is a friend indeed.

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