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In August 2013, Beth Green and her 17-year-old son Jacob were eating lunch at a restaurant with patio seating. Beth watched a “shirtless, raggedy-looking young homeless man” and his dog sit on a park bench, where the young man talked lovingly to his dog. Jacob was so moved by the hungry looking duo (who didn’t ask for anything) that he struck up a conversation with the man and offered him his lunch. After thanking Jacob, the man tore the lunch in half and gave half to his dog to eat first.
This fateful moment inspired Beth to research homelessness in her city of Louisville, Kentucky, and reach out to grassroots homeless outreach groups. She partnered with The Forgotten Louisville in November 2013. “The Forgotten Louisville meets the needs of the people with hot meals and supplies,” she explained. “We meet the needs of their pets.”
Curious, I asked Beth if this meant they mostly helped homeless dog owners. “Most homeless [we help] do have dogs,” she said, “but we also help homeless who have companion cats, bunnies, rats, snakes, and even guinea pigs!”
My Dog Eats First is a 501(c)3 grassroots organization with a full board of directors. “We are fully funded by donations and run by volunteer efforts,” Beth said. “We have no administrative (salary) costs and run very leanly.”
Being involved in the organization has shown Beth that giving back to the community and helping other people feels amazing. “Sometimes it’s not what you say, but what you do that can change people,” she said.
I asked her what was the most important thing she learned about the homeless and their pets through her work with My Dog Eats First. “Having a nice house or being financially secure doesn’t give
us the right to make decisions on who may have a companion animal or not,” Beth said. “To the companion animal of a homeless person, ‘home’ doesn’t have to be within four brick walls. Home is where their person is … whether that is in a tent, under a tarp, or in an abandoned building. Everyone deserves someone that helps them look forward to tomorrow.”