Saturday the non-profit Fences for Fido built an off-leash dog park for pets belonging to homeless women.
Volunteers put up the fencing at Kirkland's Lake Washington United Methodist Church. The church runs a "Safe Parking" program, where 40-50 women and families stay in cars in the parking lot.
“Huge deal,” said Cheryl, one of the church's guests. (She asked we not use her last name.) She and her dog, Shiloh, live in the backseat of her VW Jetta.
Cheryl said health issues make it difficult for her to keep up with Shiloh. The off-leash area helps.
“To be able to get her out of the back seat, to have her be able to romp and play and run free for a while,” beamed Cheryl.
The dog park is the latest feature of the Safe Parking program. The women can use the church's kitchen and Wi-Fi daily. Church members donate food and toiletries. If temperatures outside get below freezing, the women can sleep inside on the church's pews. The guests said they needed to pass a background check to become a part of the Safe Parking program.
Fences for Fido is a Portland-based non-profit that has an Olympia chapter.
“The fact that the church has stepped up and is utilizing their facilities to help these women makes it even more important that we step up and help them keep their pets because their pets are their family and their friends,” said Michele Coppola of Fences for Fido.
The non-profit hopes they can open a chapter in King County soon.