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If you are not housed with pets, it is difficult to access a shelter or even go to the emergency room.

homeless animals

Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ

A dog rests on the sidewalk near a homeless encampment in downtown Phoenix.

For someone who is homeless and owns a pet, this can mean making difficult decisions about finding shelter or even accessing health care.

Central Arizona Shelter Services, or CASS, allows service animals and documented emotional support animals inside its facilities and on the Key campus, where CASS is located in downtown Phoenix.

“And the documented piece is the most important thing,” said Phillip Scharf, CASS’s interim executive director.

So you can’t just bring a pet dog or cat, which are the only types of animals allowed.

“If we know a client wants to access a shelter but does not have these documents, we try to work with our partners to either gain access to these documents or direct them to other agencies who can help us with this. work,” Scharf said.

But it takes time and money. And some unhoused people will choose to stay with their pet instead of going to a shelter or even the emergency room if they can’t take them with them.

And when a customer finds themselves in an emergency situation, it’s difficult.

“Our clients are separated and often don’t have the ability to know what the current status of this animal or my property is, right, because…we’re losing the ability to know where our business. And theft is certainly a major problem within our society’s vulnerable population, it’s all up to policymakers,” Scharf said.

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