Imagine the dangers of being homeless and a woman, either alone or with your children, on the streets of Central Oregon. According to statistics, there are approximately 2,800 homeless people living in this area. Of these, a large percentage are women and about 800 are children. Many women rely upon dogs for companionship as well as protection; and their dogs are members of the family. These women won’t even consider placement into shelters because they are not allowed to take their precious dogs with them.
Dogs are not usually welcome at shelters or places that provide meals and assistance to people living on the streets or in camps. These families live in cars, camps, or anywhere there can find temporary shelter. All of them are subject to unsafe living conditions such as abuse, exposure to drugs and alcohol, inclement weather and hunger. Living on the streets, they don’t have available resources to get themselves a home or the employment that would help them reclaim a safer lifestyle.
This is changing for a few lucky women now, thanks to realtor Lynne Connelley, her husband Ed, and a group of determined volunteers from the Central Oregon chapter of Fences For Fido.
Fences For Fido is collaborating with the Shepherd's House Women and Children's Shelter and has built two large dog enclosures to enable these women and children to bring their dogs to a safe haven.
Recently, volunteers braved wind and pouring rain to build the two dog enclosures. This project was a bit different from the usual enclosures that Fences For Fido builds. These fenced areas consist of a small yard, dog house, ground cover, a soft dog bed, patio area and seating. These two differ from FFF’s regular fenced runs because they have a cedar plank wall in between the two runs, to ensure the safety of each of the dogs, and there are also two other wooden walls to shelter the dogs from the street. Ground wire discourages dogs from digging out. A tarp is provided to help keep the area dry and warm.
Shepherd’s House Women and Children's Shelter rents a home in northeast Bend. Right now there are 4 women and 1 teenager in residence. The house has the capacity to give safe living quarters to 4 more; however, before they can do so, their parking lot needs to be paved.
Gloria Hall, the Director of the women and children’s shelter, stated that this is the first of its kind in Central Oregon.
“I am very excited to have two new dog houses with their own private dog runs attached! There are even benches for the dog's owners to go sit and visit their dogs. We provide a safe healing place for the women and our hope is that they will see these new areas as safe places for their dogs too.
We even have people who will provide dog food as well as dog shots.
I just want to say thank you for caring and for loving us so well! [Fences For Fido’s] generosity could save many lives.”
All of the materials for this project were donated by Lynne & Ed Connelley, who are active FFF volunteers. Lynne, a real estate broker for Coldwell Banker, became involved with FFF several years ago. At that time, all builds were on the western side of the mountains, but Lynne sent money to help the fledgling organization. A few years later, when the Central Oregon chapter became reality, Lynne and Ed became even more involved.
“Since then we have done builds, gone to fundraisers and donated money. It is a wonderful organization.
I learned about the Shepherd’s House women and children’s center opening from a friend who knew I was involved with FFF. The center wanted to be able to welcome women who would not move in due to pet ownership, specifically dogs. I totally get that. I would feel the same way.”
As an all-volunteer non-profit organization, Fences For Fido is funded by donations. One of their main goals is to foster relationships within our community that strengthen loving and humane relationships between dogs and their human companions. Please consider donating to help free dogs from a lifetime of chaining.
Key Players who contributed to this project are:
La Donna Sullivan, Fences For Fido — Volunteer Director for Central Oregon
Gloria Hall — Director Shepherd's House, Women and Children's Center
Lynne Connelley — Broker Coldwell Banker and Ed Connelley Fences For Fido Volunteers