Helen Woodward Animal Center joins push to house San Diego homeless with tents

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Helen Woodward Animal Center is the latest organization to get behind a plan to erect two large tents in San Diego to house the homeless, organizers Peter Seidler and Dan Shea announced Thursday.

The center will provide veterinary checkups and pet food. It's estimated that nearly a quarter of the area's homeless population have animals living with them on the streets.

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"Pets provide warmth, security, and companionship that the homeless population does not ordinarily receive," said Mike Arms, CEO of the center. "We are hopeful that, by receiving these services for the pets, it will be a motivating factor for our homeless citizens to register in a central directory so that we can monitor and assess the needs of this population."

The center will also provide pet encounter therapy to people through animal ambassadors at various sites where the homeless are receiving other social services.

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Seidler, part of the Padres ownership team, and Shea, a restaurateur, announced their homeless tent initiative in July and quickly picked up support from around the community. On Wednesday, San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey gave the plan his backing.

"Our goal is to reduce the number of unsheltered citizens in San Diego," Shea said. "It takes a multi-faceted approach to understand and connect with this population in a positive way."

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Seidler and Shea have raised $1.6 million for the project. They've also formed a partnership with the nonprofit Feeding San Diego, which plans to provide food to groups that will be serving tent residents.

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