For most homeless people, there is only one priority: survival. That means only planning one meal ahead, it means standing on street corners and asking for a little help, and if they happen to have a dog, it means caring for that little one no matter what it takes. Homeless people will even refuse to go to a shelter because dogs are often not allowed. Unfortunately, that means they are missing out on a warm meal and a comfortable bed for the night.

Villanova professor and homeless advocate Stephanie Sena wants to change that in Philidelphia, Pennsylvania. Many groups and individuals have tried to help the homeless by providing free haircuts, meals, and opportunities for jobs. Even with 130 people who experience homelessness dying on the streets of Philidelphia ever year, so far, the issue of shelters accepting pets hasn’t be addressed.

“There are no shelters for humans and their pets. We see that people will make the calculation that they’d rather stay out on the street and sometimes that means freeze out on the street rather than be separated from their only companion,” Stephanie told Fox 29 news.

With her students at Villanova, Stephanie launched Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia (SREHUP). The organization has run shelters out of churches for the last six years, but now they are about to embark on a bigger dream. 

SREHUP now has plans to purchase their own property, allowing them to shelter humans AND their animal companions, the first shelter of it’s kind.

“We have institutional knowledge of what it takes to run a shelter and what it takes to get people back on their feet.  But what we really need now is a building,” Stephanie explained to Fox 29 news. 


SREHUP is partnering with local pet shelters, which are providing crates, dog supplies, as well as dog groomers and walkers for the shelter. SREHUP’s goal is to raise $75,000 to open the groundbreaking shelter. If you would like to help by donating towards this worthy cause, click here to visit SREHUP’s fundraising page.

Feeling motivated to help animals in your area? You too can make a difference in the lives of homeless animals just like Laurel simply by volunteering at your local animal shelter.

Organizations rely heavily on volunteers to assist with animal care and day-to-day operations. There’s never a shortage of things to do and opportunities are available for people of every skill set. You can help take dogs for walks, give them food and water, and make sure their area is clean. If your preference is helping out behind the scenes, you can volunteer your services by assisting with fundraisers, outreach events or general office tasks.

And please, always adopt and never shop!

For more information on SREHUP, visit their website.

In-text image source: SREHUP/Facebook 

Lead image source: Alan Light/Flickr