The heartrending story of a homeless man named Steve, who adopted ten stray dogs since he started living on the streets in 2001, and has helped fifty more to find homes, has at last reached its happy ending. When Steve decided a short while ago that he had “had enough of California, and a change of scenery might be a good idea,” he did not do what many others in his position might have done, and leave his canine companions behind.
Despite the fact that he has been homeless for 14 years, Steve has helped care for over 50 dogs during his time on the streets. He might not have much, but that has never stopped him from putting the needs of his extended pup family first. As he set out to Indiana, Steve was determined to keep his family together, no matter what.
So he gathered together every possession he owned and, together with his loyal dogs, headed off on a long journey to Indiana … by bicycle.
The dogs traveled in a makeshift cart behind him.
They were happy to travel in the company of a man they loved and trusted, even though he did not have the material wealth to give them all that they needed.
While the family were on the road in Arkansas, they caught the eye of Alicia Edrington of West Memphis Animal Shelter (WMAS), who pulled over to ask Steve where he was headed. By that point, Steve had already pedaled an incredible 2000 miles.
Alicia asked permission to post his story online. A GoFundMe page was quickly set up by her father Mickey, with the initial aim of ensuring that Steve and his dogs would have a hotel room for the night.
However, it soon became clear that Steve and his family’s longer-term needs would have to be addressed. These included:
- Veterinary bills for spay/neuter operations, vaccines, and flea/tick medication.
- Dog food, dog food bowls, and water bowls.
- Steve’s food and clothing.
- Daily hotel room costs.
- A new home or trailer home with a land lot space.
Since then, WMAS and other animal rescue organizations – including Street Outreach Animal Response Initiative (SOAR) in Indianapolis – have stepped in and helped raise awareness of Steve’s story, in addition to providing his family with practical support.
A Tennessee woman named Kelley Seaton also offered to drive the family to Indiana, free of charge. The WMAS team have said, “There have been a few people who don’t agree with what we’re doing. They think we should ‘convince’ him to surrender them all. Those that have the misconception that rescue is about tearing families like this apart need to step back and look at the big picture. “
“No two situations are very going to be the same and you have to act accordingly,” WMAS continues,”Rescues are already overwhelmed everywhere. Removing these animals from their guardian, a guardian who obviously loves them more than anything and who is willing to give up things for himself in order for them to have what they need, would not only negatively affect them but this man as well. He is their whole life and they are his.”
Steve’s GoFundMe page – now titled “Steve’s StraysUnited Fund” – has raised almost $25,000, far exceeding its target of $10,000. One of the donors has also provided him with a trailer to live in – the first real home that he and the dogs have had since 2001.
If you, too, would like to show your support for this amazing man, donate today!
Lead Image Source: LifeWithDogs
In-text images source: ViralNova and LifeWithDogs