Local animal shelter helps pets of homeless

SAN DIEGO -- A local animal shelter is donating its time, skills and money to help pets belonging to San Diego's homeless population.

Helen Woodward Animal Center kicked off Pets Without Walls, a new program dedicated to helping pets of homeless families. Medical teams conduct bi-weekly visits to attend to any needs the pets may have. In addition to the medical care, the team also provides supplies and food.

"That's been the biggest thing -- our vaccines, flea and tick. We want to make sure that the animals that they rely on for companionship are well taken care of," Dr. Patricia Carter, a veterinarian, said.

For the past year, Lisa Shankel and her dog "Precious" have called the streets of San Diego their home. When they were forced off the street, they came to the temporary tent shelter near 20th Avenue and B Street in Golden Hill.

"We lost our place and we were out on the streets. I'm a veteran," Shankel said. "It's been helpful for us while we're waiting for housing."

Carter said as of Tuesday, the shelter had as many as 50 pets.

"We saw not quite that many today. This is our first day. Some of them are current on their vaccines -- they don't all need it."

"I think it's great because some places, there's not enough resources for even us, let alone the animals," Shankel said.

Shankel's dog even got a raincoat. She says she really appreciates the extra help because "Precious" is more than just a pet -- she's her best friend.

"She helps me with my anxiety, my depression and I taught her to give hugs, so she gives big hugs," Shankel said.

Helen Woodward Animal Center has also secured a mobile spay and neuter unit by donation, which they hope to have at the tent shelter by January.