Today we’d like to introduce you to Kerry Armstrong.
Kerry, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
After volunteering at the North Central Shelter for a number of years, I wanted to find a different approach to helping animals at the shelter. Trying to find home or rescues to take on dogs that you fall in love with can become very emotionally heavy. A friend sent me an LA Times article on a program Lori Weise of Downtown Dog Rescue started at the South LA Shelter. It was an Intervention Program and the goal was to help financially strapped pet owners keep their animals instead of turning them into the shelter. I was totally inspired and set out to create a similar program at North Central. That was in 2013 and we started so small. Just me and friend Lana Meier at a table with pamphlets on free spay/neuter and low cost vet care and a sympathetic ear to listen to the reasons folk might be there to surrender their pet. We grew slowly and are now at the shelter 5 days a week with a full time bilingual Intervention Counselor, Isabel Renteria. We work very closely with the shelter staff and LA Animal Services and surrounding organizations that we partner with to keep pets in their homes.
Has it been a smooth road?
Intervention work is never dull! We have luckily built a really solid community of vets, tenant rights lawyers, pet food stores and free spay/neuter clinics in our neighborhood. Because of them we are able to help about 100 pet owners and their animals each month. That part just took time but we all support each other’s work in a really warm and caring way. LA Animal Services has also been very welcoming and supportive of our Intervention Program and has allowed us to have a table at the shelter for these last 5 years. The main struggle for us as a small non-profit is fundraising! It is not a cheap program to run and I joke that Intervention is not as sexy as rescue so it is a bit harder to get donors on board with what we do.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Home Dog LA story. Tell us more about the business.
Home Dog LA helps pet owners with resources so that they can keep their pets. We are set up at the North Central Animal Shelter near downtown Los Angeles to help pet owner in that community. Some of the resources we offer are assistance with vet visits, free spay/neuter, fence repair, covering the cost of return to owner fee if someone’s pet is at the shelter and they cannot afford the cost to get it out, pet food, access to free legal aid for tenant issues and collars and leashes. We are not an animal rescue. Home Dog LA tries to help before an animal even lands at the shelter. Our goal is to keep a pet in its home.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I hope that shelter prevention is much more pervasive in the next 5-10 years! We need animal rescue but we also need organizations on the other end providing affordable resources to help pet owners. There are many neighborhoods with no services, like vets, at all.
- Address: Home Dog LA
We are located at North Central Shelter, 3201 Lacy Street, Los Angeles, 90031
- Website: www.homedogla.org
- Phone: (213) 221-4895
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @homedogla
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/homedogla/
All photos by Debbie Zeitman