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The Ruff Report: These hungry pets are begging for your help

Night after night, these dogs and cats have no choice but to sleep on the streets in the harsh outdoor elements with little or no food to eat. In some ways, even orphaned pets in shelters are better off than the 30,000 dogs and cats whose owners have fallen on hard times or who are homeless, unable to afford to buy food for their beloved companions.

The Hunt of Her Life: A book about a rescue dog that will touch your heart

But you can help ease the hunger pains of these dogs and cats by participating in a nationwide pet food collection drive being sponsored by Pets of the Homeless. The effort also helps to prevent many of these dogs and cats from winding up in shelters already overcrowded with millions of orphaned pets waiting for adoption.

Pets of the Homeless has been collecting and distributing pet food since 2008. The food is distributed to companion pets of the less fortunate and homeless through local food banks, food pantries, homeless shelters and Meals on Wheels in communities across the nation. Since 2008, Pets of The Homeless has been able to help set up 470 collection sites and 400 distributing organizations. Sites report that they have collected more than 511,500 pounds of pet food and supplies.

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A book about a rescue dog
that will touch your heart

THE HUNT OF HER LIFE, is a nonfiction book about Samantha, an unwanted rescue dog who the author adopts at age 2. This beautifully designed deluxe full-color book, by longtime newspaper journalist Joseph A. Reppucci, contains more than 60 vibrant color photos of dogs to help illustrate the compelling and uplifting story of Samantha - a pretty tricolor bird dog who uses her warm personality to win people over and build a new family after being put up for adoption by a hunter because she is gun-shy and afraid to hunt. Learn how she uses her special bonding abilities with people to help her eventually make a transition from the hunting fields to family life. While reading the The Hunt of Her Life, you will travel with Samantha and the author along a trail filled with surprising twists, sudden turns, mystery and even what some call a miracle. And when the journey is finished, you may never look at people and their pets, motherhood - and perhaps even God - in the same way. The Hunt of Her Life is must reading. It will take you on a captivating journey - a trip like no other - that will touch your heart.

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Genevieve Frederick, executive director of the Carson City, Nevada-based organization, says the problem of pets going hungry has been exacerbated by hard economic times and the housing foreclosure crisis. Shelters, low-cost apartments and motel rooms normally have no-pets policies, so people who have lost their homes must choose between their pet and a roof over their head."Most people who experience homelessness (80 percent) are homeless for a short period of time and usually need help finding housing," Ms. Frederick told My Setter Sam. "But, unfortunately, for those with pets, it becomes more difficult. Many are forced to choose between their pet and a roof over their head. Surprisingly, most choose to stay on the streets with their pets for longer periods of time."People who have lost their homes are going through a traumatic experience and their pets give them a psycho-
logical lift
, Ms. Frederick said. "Their pets are nonjudgmental, offer comfort, and provide an emotional bond of loyalty (as seen in photos above from Feeding Pets of the Homeless)," she explained. "In some cases, they provide the homeless protection and keep them warm. The tragic part is the pets of the homeless do not choose their owners."

And many of those people will put their pet's well-being before their own, said Ms. Frederick, citing an e-mail from an official at one food bank.

"Nearly half of the people who use the service, whether they are homeless or living in extreme poverty, have a pet," the food pantry official wrote in an e-mail to Feeding Pets of the Homeless.

"We uncovered this statistic a couple of years ago when a local vet was providing us with nearly 500 pounds of dog and cat food a month. We were stunned at the number of people who were going hungry themselves to feed an animal - or were sharing their emergency food boxes with their pets. I can't begin to describe how grateful these people were; it certainly made me realize that this was an element of homelessness and poverty that we had totally overlooked,"
the food pantry official concluded.

Forcing the poor and homeless to give up their pets will only cause more problems at already cramped shelters, Ms. Frederick said. "Shelters are overcrowded and many are euthanizing animals at an alarming rate. The no-kill shelters are overwhelmed. Feeding and caring for these animal has put a huge strain on the shelters and their staff. Rescue groups are seeing an increase also."

Pets of the Homeless also provides free veterinary care for pets of people in need, Ms. Frederick said. "The homeless do not have money or transportation. This is one of many reasons we started our grant program."

Under the program, grants - made possible by donations from the public and distributors of veterinary products - are issued to local veterinarians to provide free care to pets of people in need, Ms. Frederick said. "Many homeless and poor have benefited from free clinics that provide a basic check up, vaccines, medicines, flea and tick treatments, spay or neuter, along with pet food and other pet products."According to Ms. Frederick, even small donations can make a big difference. A $25 donation can give a veterinarian the money to pay for rabies vaccines for five dogs, a $30 donation can pay for heart-worm testing for three dogs or cats and a $50 donation will allow the organization to ship 25 pounds of dry dog food to a food pantry, soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

"Like so many other nonprofits, we are seeing a decrease in giving, yet it amazed me when I received a check from a third-grade class because one of the students approached a teacher with a print-out from our website," Ms. Frederick said. "She was very upset about the quality of life that the pets of the homeless must endure. The class decided to start a reading fundraiser that involved each student asking friends and neighbors to make a donation for every book they read. It is this kind of generosity and imagination from our youth that will make a difference in the future."The organization encourages donations of canned and dry pet food as well as treats to its collection sites nationwide. The collection sites will also accept partially consumed bags of food that are taped closed and cash donations as well as donations of collars, leashes, bed, blankets, flea/tick control products, and toys.

Cash donations are also welcomed, Ms. Frederick said. The money is used for items such as grants to veterinary care and to purchase and ship pet food to local food banks, pantries or soup kitchens.

Visit Pets of the Homeless for a list of state-by-state collection sites to make food donations.


The Ruff Report is a column that appears on, a blog written by Joseph A. Reppucci, a retired editor from The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts. Mr. Reppucci worked as a reporter and editor on major daily newspapers in the Boston area for more than 30 years. He is the author of the book, The Hunt of Her Life, a heartwarming story about his once-in-a-lifetime rescue dog. Find it on and


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THE HUNT HER LIFE BOOK SERIES: Order your set signed by author Joseph A. Reppucci! The Original will touch your heart and the Sequel will lift your soul. *The Hunt of Her Life signed book series sets are only available to U.S. customers.

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*The Hunt of Her Life signed book series sets are only available to U.S. customers.

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