Saving the ‘Furbabies’: Raising Money to License the Pets in the Palco Marsh Homeless Encampment

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Veronica “Roni” Allen with her and her husband’s dogs, Ranger and Minuette. The two canines were licensed Monday with help from donations to Save the Palco Marsh Dogs. [Photo provided by Jaymeey Hatfield]

On May 2, the City of Eureka plans to relocate any of the remaining homeless people living on the Palco Marsh near the Bayshore Mall to make room for an extension of the Waterfront Trail. At the end of March, there were about 200 people living in that area with their pets. If pets are still there when the relocation begins animal activists allege the animals will be taken to the shelter, neutered and given their shots. If the pets’ owners cannot or will not pay the requisite fees within 10 days, the animals can be rehomed or euthanized.

According to Eureka Police Department spokesperson Brittany Powell said the EPD does not want to take any animals to the Humboldt County Animal Shelter, “That is why we have contacted various groups asking for them to offer solutions or temporary shelter. Ultimately, we will only take animals from someone who is under arrest.”

Nonetheless, the worry about losing their pets “freaked people out,” said homeless activist Debra Carey. “[The homeless] thought people were after their furbabies.”

Jaymeey Hatfield, an animal and human rights activist with the Other Side of the Fence nonprofit, worries that this policy will overload the local animal shelter and cause animals already in the shelter to be euthanized to make room for the influx of homeless pets. Her organization has mobilized to stop this. They are raising funds to provide shots and licensing fees for the approximately 70 dogs in the homeless encampment. Already many animals have received rabies shots and some have been licensed.

“We stepped in because we feel the dogs are now being used as a war tactic by the EPD,” explained Hatfield. She believes the City wants to use fear of losing their pets to force the homeless to leave the area. “The animals do not need to be brought into their war.”

The fundraising page states, “If the City wants to wage war against the homeless, can we please leave the innocent lives of the dogs out of it? This is clearly class discrimination. The police are not threatening people who are not experiencing homelessness and no one is going door to door threatening euthanasia of pets.”

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Eureka Police Officer leaving a notice at a homeless camp. [Photo from Save the Palco Marsh Dogs]

But, legally, homeless activist Debra Carey acknowledges, the City is within its rights to demand the animals be licensed and have a rabies shot. ” Legally no dogs can be without their shots,” she explained. “We are on a hot trail to get those dogs shots, licensed and legal,” she said. “We are going to try and do them all.”

When asked about the possibility of some of the animals being adopted, Carey said, “If people want to adopt [their pets] out that’s fine but I want it to be their decision.” She doesn’t believe many of the homeless will want to give up their animals. “People were saying, ‘This is all I have,'” Carey explained. “We have disabled people that use their pets for many reasons.”

Hatfield agrees, “I work with the homeless a lot. I know the animals are their whole life….They are the protectors. If you are sleeping outside and [your dog] barks that few seconds warning can be lifesaving.”

After the licensing and shots have been taken care of, the Other Side of the Fence plans to keep records to help the animal owners always have access to proof of their dog’s legal status. “We’re keeping a file on each animal,” Carey said. “Jaymeey is shrinking and laminating [the records] for [the homeless] to keep it in their wallet. [Law enforcement] can call and we can say, ‘Yep, we have the file.'”

“Those animals are private property to their owners,” said Carey. “If they have their shots and license they can’t be removed from the owners.”

Hatfield said her organization is working closely with homeless pet owners. “I really want to empower people and have them do as much of the process as possible but I am prepared to stand beside them through the whole process,” she explained.

Donations to help the effort can be made at Save the Palco Marsh.

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27 comments

  • Helping those dogs and helping their owners keep their pets instead of going to the pound is a cause everybody should support.

  • These people cannot support themselves, much less, an animal. While we’re on the subject, anyone receiving welfare or food stamps should lose pet privileges. Again, if they can’t take care of themselves, they sure as fuck can’t take care of a pet. Anyone that’s been to a animal shelter anywhere in this country, know there’s an epidemic of displaced pets whose owners lack any form of responsibility. Using taxpayer money or donations to pay for vaccines/registration is just enabling these lazy fucks. I personally have a “soft spot” for animals. Removing these “pets” from said “owners” would be the appropriate course of action for the welfare of the animals.

    • If u ever have a problem that displaces you and some jerk comes and calls u a lazy ****, i hope you remember your former self and reflect on how hateful you really sounded back then.

      • Give Them A Better Life

        Well, when I’m strung out on drugs or drunk all the time and I’m dragging my dog around on a rope, barely able to feed it, please take my dog and give it a better life. I’ll admit, and my family thinks I’m crazy, I’m always looking to liberate one of these dogs.

      • sharpen your pencil

        Not going to happen, as most of us work hard to prevent this from happening. It’s called if you lose a job go get another. Not fall into a drug induced coma and move to the swamp. The key here is that it was these people choice to remain in this position they placed themselves into. If these individuals truely want help, they would accept the help already in front of them. Not complain because they can’t take their pets…. There are people everyday whom have to move and displace pets, it is pathetic that people use the pets as an excuse. Equally as pathetic when people get a pet knowing full damn good and well that they have no business taking on the extra load. Then people like you want to try and defend something undefendable! It’s called growing up, I guess it’s a sad thing for some people, responsibility and all, you know….

        • Delores del Ruby

          Refusing to give up your pet after you committed to living with one is being responsible. I believe what is pathetic is for people to use moving as an excuse to displace their pets. I think you have things backwards. The compassionate way is to help these people stay with their dogs who may be the only loved ones they have. I’m sure the dogs would prefer to stay with the people they know as well as long as they are not being mistreated.

          • Thumbs up. We have a dog this way and she is such a great well mannered dog from the constant attention, cept she loves junk food that we do not give her (much hardly any)

  • If the ‘owners’ are taking very good care of them, by all means. But if they can get to actual stable homes, even better. What do you think we do with children we find in the same situation?

  • 👍💘👍💘👍

  • “Everything Hitler did in Germany was legal”
    –Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Likewise with the attacks upon those without homes, the victims of the wars and trade treaties of Clinton, Bush, and Obama (yes, I repeat myself), in combination with the various governmental entities in Humboldt County who have done so much to turn Humboldt into a community with few actually-living-wage jobs.

  • sharpen your pencil

    I would like to add, the homeless of the marsh have brought their pets into this equation by not having them upto par. Having unregistered and non vaccinated dogs running around is already against the penal code in Eureka. Any citizen that fails to abide by the law is subject to losing their pet. Also they have been using their dogs as an excuse to trespass and live in a lawless environment. You can’t have it both ways advocates, nobody can!

    Lastly it is animal abuse to have these pets sitting on the hot asphalt all day while their loved one begs for the next fix, with no water on sight…..

    • As Anatole France said, the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. These folks can’t afford to neuter and license their dogs, and many of them don’t have transportation to get them to the low cost vaccination clinics, when those happen.

      • It sounds like they’re not responsible enough for a pet. A pet, like ones own life, is a BIG responsibility. If you cannot take care of yourself, why drag a helpless pet into the mess as well? Grow up homeless the marsh is not Neverland.

        • sharpen your pencil

          Like I put in my post. You can’t have it both ways….. nobody can! That’s the problem, these people don’t want to move, they don’t want to seek help finding housing because they don’t want to leave their pet….. they want to sue the city when they are trespass and hurt themselves. They want to be non productive citizens and for us to be ok with that. Sorry but no, I have lived in Eureka my whole life, and a vast majority of these people live in the marsh by choice, because their habits put them in that position, and their inability to put forth the effort to take care of themselves is pathetic. These people put themselves in this position and have elected to remain in that place until the city forces hand.

  • I lost a dog to pravo because I made the mistake of allowing my dog to walk on a leash in a small So Hum town over run with houseless people, all with a minumum of two dogs. My dog was up to date with all it’s shots, had annual visits with the vet and was healthy until our walk thru town. The vet later put out a warning about the problem with homeless dogs coming into communities from outside the area. The dogs had no shots and the fluids and the fecal matter from these dogs on the streets are a threat to our animals. These are the dogs living in the houseless encampments and allowed to roam our streets.

  • Its a shame how much parvo has been out there. Good thing there are awesome advocates out there, vaccinating these animals out of their own pocket & willful donations! At least some people out there are trying to help vs just complain with no results.

    • sharpen your pencil

      Most people want this parasites to do the same thing as them. Get a job and work hard for the things we have. These people want to do the opposite, sit in a swamp and drink and use drugs. Yet wish for assistance for their pets which they have no business even having as they can’t take care of even themselves….. your point is moot! These “advocates” you speak so highly of waited until the 11th hour, when the city was banging on the door about to kick it in. If you, and the advocates are so proud to help out, and trust that these are good people, bring them into your homes and see what kind of people you are advocating for! You won’t like the dose of reality in your face!

      • Delores del Ruby

        So now you are against the local animal rescues as well?

      • Delores del Ruby

        You talk too much about what you don’t know. You don’t personally know every individual living in the marsh and I would bet you have no idea about what animal rescues have been doing over the years to help homeless pets. Your posts are negative and highly judgemental. Try being more humanish. Thanks.

  • I was all for it, until I saw Debra Carey’s name associated with this article. Guess she doesn’t have enough to do ruining Southern Humboldt, she has to help ruin Northern as well!

  • Been there, done that

    Our history is FULL of shantytowns, immigrant camps, and areas like the Devil’s Playground. It’s not a history of american laziness. It tends to happen when economics and joblessness converge in larger trends.

    Are individuals living in tents lazy or drug addicted? Some, sure. Are there lazy, drug-addicted millionaires around here? You bet. Does having wealth guarantee one will be an ethical caretaker for pets, family and the environment? Um, no….

    Read here:http://depts.washington.edu/depress/hooverville.shtml

    Our local economy is collapsing and shifting, and people are homeless, and it’s not pretty. But this result is not unique to our county, or our state–or even this century. It happens all the time. Maybe history has some good solutions. But blaming and evicting people, or acting as if the problem is a lack of morals, won’t fix a thing.

    • Oh dear… Being sensible and knowing what you are talking about… You are setting a dangerous precedent here.

  • I heard once, “Words that emanate from the heart reach the heart!” Good job advocates! XOXO

  • Yes, some homeless people love and take care of their dogs, but many do not/CANNOT. In addition, on a daily basis, I see transients ( many of whom are NOT homeless , but claim so in order to pan handle TONS of money every day outside my store in Arcata) selling puppies they “rescued” to buy their next meth or heroin fix.Dogs are used regularly to garner more money from people because the people feel sorry for the dog. It gets them money and everyone knows this! More importantly, instead of simply registering these dogs and giving them vaccinations, THEY SHOULD BE SPAYED OR NEUTERED!!!!! For christ’s sake, we have an unbelievable amount of dogs, puppies, cats and kittens in shelters or euthanized each year! Fixing them should be your NUMBER ONE priority! I have spent the better part of this year collecting signatures from concerned citizens to help get a FOURTH ABUSED DOG away from a homeless man who I have witnessed torturing and beating dogs for years.He is NOT the only one! I see “homeless” people regularly abusing their dogs here, many of whom are mentally ill, on meth, heroin or are perpetually drunk. There needs to be a FIRM criteria to own a pet. Yes, there are people who love their dogs whom they’ve cared for and then lost their homes. They are not who I am speaking of. I am speaking of using animals for profit. Abusing animals because the owner is on drugs and taking anger out on an innocent animal is easy. They are helpless. Sorry, but this program is falling VERY, VERY short of the mark….to say the least.

  • Pingback: EPD Finding Solutions for the Animals of the Homeless in Palco Marsh – Redheaded Blackbelt

  • They are spaying & neutering them for free too. Getting the vaccinations will require declaration of ownership. If you witnessed someone abusing the dog, film them with you phone & have the proof to turn into aninal control. They will have to follow up on abuse reports.

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