Indy organizations helping animals and people escape the bitter cold

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As the temperatures dip, many will be filing into shelters to escape the frigid cold. However, many homeless people struggle to find somewhere warm that they can stay with their pets.

Dozens of groups across The Circle City are working hard to make sure everyone is safe.  Wheeler Mission and Street Outreach Animal Response are expecting a high number of people and pets seeking shelter from the cold.

SOAR helps the homeless and their pets by providing them with warm clothes and blankets during winter. They also house pets if their owners need to seek shelter where animals aren’t allowed.

"Humans love their pets and for many people, that’s the most positive relationship they have in their life. They are not willing to give up their pet just for their own safety," SOAR Executive Director Angela Hopson said.

One person dealing with homelessness and addiction is James Dahmer. Dahmer and his dog sleep in an old van because he says most shelters won't take in animals.

“We curl up together to keep warm. If it gets too cold we turn the van on and run it," Dahmer said.

Thanks to SOAR, Dahmer is going to seek treatment for his addiction problem. SOAR agreed to house his dog Droopy while he's away.

Dahmer’s situation is something Hopson sees many people struggle with.

"We offer a space for that pet until the weather breaks or until that person is done with the health program. We return the pet back to the person so they don’t have to have fear of losing their pet," Hopson said.

It’s something Wheeler Mission’s Men's Emergency Shelter Director William Bumphus witnesses all the time.

"Usually when it gets wet outside and when the snow starts coming down our numbers do go up because it’s harder to sleep outside," Bumphus said.

He believes it’s vital for Wheeler Mission to work with groups like SOAR and IMPD’s homeless unit.

"In this type of weather you can die on the streets and that’s not what we want to happen. Every life is valuable and we want to make sure we can do everything we can to help with that," Bumphus said.

With all these organizations working together, seeking a warm place is made easier whether you have 2 or 4 legs.

"SOAR is an amazing bunch of people at this rate. For them being willing to take care of my animal and me being able to get back on my feet; it means a lot," Dahmer said.

SOAR has already committed to keeping 9 dogs Thursday night and they expect to have more.

If you are or someone you know is looking for a warm place to stay several places are offering a warm place. In Indianapolis; you can reach out to Wheeler Mission. In Kokomo, The Kokomo Rescue Mission is offering shelter. Muncie and Delaware County are opening warming stations.

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