A homeless man and his very young pup stood in the median daily on the southwest part of town. I would see them as I was coming and going to and from the plaza, me handing out a pack of crackers that I had purposely put in the car for him. The puppy seemed happy, always playing, and tugging at his pants. I was somewhat comforted knowing that the puppy was with his person 24/7, but still how was he to pay for the puppy’s food.
One afternoon after getting groceries, I drove past the median I noticed the puppy was lethargic and had lost hair on his tail specifically. I proceeded home, put by groceries away and got back in my car to head back to the plaza. I ended up sitting down with this man and his adorable puppy in the median, him in his ragged clothes, me in velvet pants and a wool sweater. He proceeded to tell me that he was going to California within the next few days and needed to find a home for Mikey. The rest is history as the say and I took home what was going to be THE best rescue dog of my life.
I’ve lost count as to how many dogs I’ve brought home and kept or fostered over the years, but all have been wonderful and somehow seemed to know that they had been “saved”. They all came with a story and for me that story usually started with them being cared for-or not-by a residentially challenged person whose trust I gained by giving out dog food, collars, leashes whatever was needed.
I, and others besides me, have spent countless hours talking to people about their animals in Ten City (now defunct), in other wooded areas where homeless people may be camping at GRACE and even near bridges or intersections where they “fly a sign” asking for handouts.
Making sure that the pets were spayed/neutered, up to date on vaccinations and, most of all cared for was my absolute goal. I can’t thank the shelter medicine program at the university of Florida (now VCOP or Veterinary Community Outreach Program), Home Van Pet Care and St Francis Pet Clinic for all of their amazing help getting these hundreds of animals vetted and, at times, rehomed.
Additionally, my experience with the area’s many rescue groups has been nothing less than humbling. My past also includes several years as the director of the Alachua County Humane Society, working as a supervisor with Alachua County Animal Services, and working at the UF Shelter Medicine Program.
Now that I have a business, Sisset’s A Fun Twist on the Home & Patio, my time is limited. That said, a portion of our profits goes to animal rescue and my number one passion remains animal rescue.