Animal lovers often treat their pets, and animals in general, like their own babies. Whether it’s making sure they have more than enough food and water, spoiling them with treats, or holding them when they are scared, animal lovers go above and beyond for their furry companions. People like this often have compassion that even reaches beyond their personal lives. They are the type of people who don’t just turn a blind eye when they see a stray dog because giving them a lending hand seems like too much of a burden.
Sandro Gomez and Erika Emal, the founders and rescuers of South Side Street Dogs in Houston, Texas, are prime examples of this type of animal lover. Erika grew up with a father who was always bringing home stray animals, and Sandro was also an animal lover from childhood who got the rescue bug when he married Erika.
These two go above and beyond for the stray dogs in their neighborhood. And unfortunately, there are plenty that need help. In Texas, like in much of the U.S., pet homelessness is a huge problem with over 70 million stray dogs. Not only do these animals have to fend for themselves on dangerous streets, but they are often the victims of abuse. Sandro and Erika report that nearly every single dog they take in has at least one bullet or a few pellets in them. Apparently, these dogs are often used as “target practice” or are abducted and forced into dog fighting rings.
In Sunnyside, Houston, Erika and Sandro are some of the few people who give these sweet animals care and affection. When the dogs are abducted into dog fighting rings where they are subdued and then trained to attack, they inevitably adopt violent and aggressive behaviors which only fuels the fear of local residents. Unfortunately, even if the dogs are lucky enough to avoid dog fighting rings, local residents oftentimes abuse them for something as simple as barking. Which is why Erika and Sandro do everything they can to reach the dogs before this happens and get these pups to trust humans and stay friendly.
Sometimes that means cuddling up for an afternoon nap to make their furry friend feel safe!
While not everyone can open up their homes in the way Sandro and Erika do, there is still a lot that can be done to help the pet homelessness problem in the U.S. and around the world. For one, you can choose to adopt and encourage loved ones to do the same. With millions of animals in shelters, there’s no reason to buy a dog, which in turn supports cruel puppy mill practices. Alternatively, you can become a foster parent to pups and help them find forever homes or donate to a rescue group.
To learn more about what you can do to end pet homelessness, click here.
Image Source: South Side Street Dogs