This Pet Shelter In Brazil Only Employs Homeless People Who Love Animals

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By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory
When Glenn and his husband rescued an old, injured dog in the area of Rio de Janeiro, they already had more than enough dogs. But apparently, Mabel, the dog that they rescued, was pregnant. Soon, she gave birth to around 6 puppies, simply doubling up the number of dogs in their household.

But luckily, they were able to find people in the States who adopted 4 of the puppies. Most of these families haven’t stepped back from describing how the puppies changed their lives. 

What’s important is that Glenn and his family have grown up to 23 dogs. And they have facilitated fostering, adoption and more. Makes life more gratifying, doesn’t it?

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They have had a shift in their focus last year. With the increasing number of homeless people on the roads, they have started bringing in such people who usually have a dog as their companion. Interestingly, contrary to popular belief, these dogs aren’t treated with disdain or disrespect. In fact, they grow so close with their humans, that they would rather live on the streets with them, than in some location without them.

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Whoever said humanity was dead has probably never seen a homeless person sharing their infinitely small world with their four-legged companion. The raw emotion that bubbles forth is enough to topple over even the most stone-hearted individual. Leslie Irvine of the University of Colorado had spent time researching on this event, so much, that her dissertation was based on this topic, and her first book titled ‘My Dog Always Eats First’.

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Soon after they realized this meant something way deeper than they believed, they brought out
two different documentaries highlighting their plight, both under the direction of Oscar-winner Laura Poitras. 

Both films are intense tear jerkers. The first one ‘Birdie’ deals with an ex-convict living on the streets, and taking care of two dogs that refuse to leave his side. The second one ‘Karollyne’ is about a trans woman, whose family lives in an abandoned building, and cares for all the animals that have been abandoned. Ironic, isn’t it?

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All this proved a brainwave, as the couple decided to bring in an animal shelter that, while doing everything a normal animal shelter does, would also have a fully staffed workforce, comprising solely of homeless people. This would not only prove immensely helpful to the homeless people, who could do with some income to manage their affairs better, but also the dogs, who would get intimately familiar with the staff. The love both showed for each other would benefit both.

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The entire idea is based on one goal- helping as many homeless people and animals as they can. Interestingly, this fell like a jigsaw puzzle to one of Glenn’s movies that he produced last year. He had written a profile, and his movie was about a same-sex couple who got three foster children instead of one. But they didn’t step back, and loved all three of them equally, leading to a well-functioning family.

The film’s main lead Francisco David was hired to be the executive director, for his enthusiasm to help others in need trumped his own need for a satisfying life. The next people to be hired were two homeless youth- Wallace and Lucas, who were caring for an incurable puppy. Quite frustratingly, they had to watch as rich folk simply ignored the puppy in need.

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Lucas has started working with Francisco and the money he earned led to him getting a nice apartment and a good start to his new life. Glenn also partnered with CREAS that helps homeless people transition from a life on the streets to a positive start.

The desire yet cluelessness about trying to fix the homeless people into stable employment out of the shelter finally found an answer in CREAS, that would not only look after the finances of the people but also secure proper housing and employment for them.

The blueprint also involves a team of expert medical professionals that would take care of the animals brought into the shelter. The only piece left is getting support from the public. Although Glenn and his partner are running campaigns that would bring in interested people to work for a shelter that will stand the test of time, progress is slow. 

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As is known throughout the world, Brazil is suffering from crisis, both social and economic, that the homeless and the marginalized are suffering from the most. Most services that were in place for the homeless have been completely squashed. But there has been a light at the end of the tunnel. Glenn’s husband is a member of the city council of Rie de Janeiro. He brings in programs that are designed to uplift the marginalized. Yet, he has faced problems too- the inventory is almost empty and there are no opportunities for anyone to make a change. To add salt to the injury, the new mayor of Rio decided to eliminate the post that provided money to the animal welfare society of the city.

Since the total budget is in the range of $250000, public funding is of the essence right now. Although private funding is also an option, such a big amount may raise some eyebrows. Despite a legitimate balance sheet, there might be bigger problems getting the money. 

There is no possibility to back out now, for the joy of taking care of animals and humans that need it, is a different experience altogether.

Images Credit: YouTube/Field of Vision Glenn Greenwald

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