Shelter cares for homeless dog as owner searches for housing [video]

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 Rob Roy visits his dog Mocha every Saturday at Faithful Friends. (Zoe Read/WHYY)

Rob Roy visits his dog Mocha every Saturday at Faithful Friends. (Zoe Read/WHYY)

Faithful Friends Animal Society is caring for a homeless man’s dog while helping him find housing.

Every Saturday, Rob Roy rides his bike about 35 minutes from 42nd and Washington to Faithful Friends Animal Society on Germay Drive in Wilmington—sometimes getting caught in the rain—just so he can see his “child” Mocha.

Despite being on dialysis, the 50-year-old makes the special journey to take the 5-year-old Pitbull Boxer mix for a walk, and play catch with her.

As soon Roy arrives, Mocha runs to him and wraps her paws around his neck, before receiving her favorite treat—a Slim Jim.

“That’s my child, and I can’t say that enough, because I have no children—I will do everything and anything for her, just as she’s done for me,” Roy said.

Mocha is one of several pets Faithful Friends has temporarily taken care of while their owner experiences homelessness. The organization is now trying to help Roy find a home so the pair can be reunited.

“It’s really hard to see people lose their homes and think they’re going to lose their pets as well, who are their family—and for Roy, Mocha is his emotional support as well. He has some medical issues he’s dealing with, then losing his home, losing a pet on top of it is really traumatic, so we’re happy we can help,” said Faithful Friends Executive Director Jane Pierantozzi.

“Mocha is really lovely, and sometimes she will be seen sitting in the managers’ chairs as if she runs the place—so we enjoy her.”

Roy first met Mocha when she was a puppy, as she followed him and his Border Collie-Husky mix home while on a walk. He said he believes Mocha was used as a bait dog for dog fighting, as she had several injuries, including a deformed eye that had to be removed, and she was severely dehydrated and malnourished. Roy took her in, and nursed her back to health.

“She’s a survivor, so that’s why I call her Miss Mocha “Survivor” Roy,” he said.

In March, Roy, who receives disability benefits, became homeless after he was evicted. He said he was living in an apartment with deplorable living conditions, and he even suffered an injury because of it. The landlord then evicted Roy, and he lost almost everything he owned. He’s currently seeking legal help.

Roy didn’t qualify for the state’s motel voucher program, but was able to move in with his godmother temporarily.

“I was at a total loss. If Faithful Friends were not there for me and Mocha, I don’t know what I would have done,” he said.

“My main point was, ‘What is going to happen to my child? I’m going to survive and I’m going to make it, but she can’t verbally speak for herself,’ so I had to get someone to be her advocate and still be my own advocate, and get an advocate for me as well, which was difficult, and it still is difficult.”

Pierantozzi said Faithful Friends cares for about five pets a year until the owner is able to find stable housing. The organization receives phone calls from individuals who can’t bring their dog to a shelter, or those who have been living with their pets in cars, because they can’t find a place that will house both of them.

Pierantozzi said the Faithful Friends staff does anything they can to help individuals and families get housing, and most of the time they are reunited with their pet.

“We find that some people will call and say, ‘You can go ahead and place them, it’s going to take me years to find new housing,’ ‘I’m moving in with relatives and I can’t bring my pet.’ Usually every two or three months we get a call from someone who is hoping to get housing in 60 to 90 days, does not want to give up their pet, really needs their pet and is too devastated to think about losing them that way,” she said.

“We try to help those cases as much as we can, but because we run off donations and have the space for stray dogs and cats coming in there’s a limited amount we can help with.”

The challenge Roy faces is that it’s difficult to find affordable housing he’s qualified for that also allows him to bring Mocha. Pierantozzi said she hopes someone will soon come forward with a housing opportunity for the pair.

When Mocha first arrived at the shelter, she had a meltdown because she wasn’t used to a crate environment, so the staff turned the office into her bedroom. Knowing Roy will visit her every Saturday keeps Mocha calm, Pierantozzi said.

Roy said he’s hopeful he will find a new home for him and Mocha soon. But until then, he’s grateful for the Faithful Friends staff who take good care of his furry friend.

“I’m relieved, because she’s not faced with being back on the streets, as she was when I first discovered her, taking chances on people injuring her, or worst case scenario, getting hit by an automobile,” Roy said.

“I cannot commend Faithful Friends enough for everything they have done and still are doing for Miss Mocha “Survivor” Roy and myself. I’m relieved knowing she is actually safe, and believe it or not, she’s spoiled. She’s touched the heart of the people here at Faithful Friends, and they’ve touched her heart as well.”

Faithful Friends Annual Appeal has a goal to raise $150,000 by July 31st. Through June 30th all donations up to $25,000 are being matched by donors.

Donations can be made online at www.faithfulfriends.us or by mail to 12 Germay Dr., Wilmington, DE 19804. 

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