This shelter aims to help people by hiring them to help animals.
Three years ago, Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda were in the forest of Rio de Janeiro when they came across a dog on the side of the road, who they later named Mabel. She struggled to walk and had likely been abandoned, and even though the couple already had 7 dogs at home and barely had the financial means to take another dog in, they took her home and added her to their pack. They soon discovered she was pregnant with six puppies, four of which were adopted out while the pair kept two of them.
They didn’t know it at the time, but this was just the beginning of their journey to rescue animals from the street and arrange proper adoptions, and both have been doing their part to advocate for animal rights and the importance of rescue and adoption in Rio. They have gone above and beyond, with Miranda winning an election to become a City Council member and the couple taking in more dogs—they now have 23. Their rescue work is being taken in a new direction, however, and they’re excited to announce that their latest idea is both strong, necessary, and helpful for both people and animals.
“The bond that forms between homeless people and their homeless pets is often strong, deep and more profound than many can imagine. The mutual need, and resulting intense devotion, that homeless people and their animals develop for one another is inspiring and can be unlike what one might find in any other context,” said Greenwald. “The compassion, empathy and self-sacrifice defining the relationship between those who are homeless and their pets is extraordinary.”
Greenwald and Miranda have now conceived a concept that is already working its magic despite not yet having a shelter location or the necessary funding. They are planning to hire homeless people that have an affinity for animals and helping them to transition into society as a contributing individual through employment and learning opportunities.
The pair have already hired two people. One of them was recently profiled for a short film and article written by Greenwald because the man, Francisco David, and his partner had extended their hearts and homes by welcoming in a 5-year-old they adopted—and his two older brothers. Though they only meant to adopt the youngest boy, they knew they had to take all three once they found out he had siblings. Soon after the adoption, Francisco lost his job because his company went bankrupt, leaving the new family of five with no income.
Francisco is the shelter’s executive director, and he works closely with the shelter’s first homeless hire, Lucas, who is 20 years old and has his own adult dog. Greenwald came across Lucas and his friend caring for a very sick puppy on the street after they had seen no one help her, ultimately taking her to the vet to find out that the puppy had a fatal illness. The puppy lived a short life, but Lucas and his friend cared for her until the end. It is this compassion for animals that compelled Greenwald and Miranda to hire him as well, and the salary he has received so far has helped him to secure an apartment and begin to stabilize his life.
Greenwald maintains that, although they would love to continue working with these people after they transition out of homelessness, the job at the shelter is not meant to be permanent. By offering temporary jobs, resources, and access to services, they can help people get their life on track and secure housing and stability. Once these people feel comfortable, they can then leave the shelter and find other full-time jobs, making room for more homeless people to be hired.
All of this comes at a cost, however. With the salaries for homeless people and the items necessary to care for the animals, such as the cost of maintaining a location, food, cleaning, beds, and other necessities, the couple estimates that it will cost $250,000 to run the shelter. Although Miranda became a member of City Council to help ensure that the city continued to care for the needs of animals, he quickly learned that the city of Rio is in such a dire financial situation that the new mayor has already announced his intention to eliminate funds to care for the city’s animals.
The shelter knows they can’t rely on public funding, so they’ve turned to private donations and are now asking everyone for help if they can spare it. You can donate to the shelter’s GoFundMe page here and watch their video below.