Lori Rich says it started with a simple question from her daughter, Shira. “Who helps the dogs living with the homeless?” she asked. Seven years later, the answer is clear: Lori and Shira.
The organization they founded, “Taking it to the Streets with Lori and Shira,” helps homeless and low-income veterans care for their pets, striving to spay or neuter, microchip and vaccinate as many of the four-legged companions as possible. Lori and her small team of volunteers also provide donated pet food and supplies, and help secure proper licenses for the street pets they encounter. To date, more than 1,000 cats and dogs in the Riverside, Calif., area have been spayed or neutered thanks to their determination.
“People don’t always realize it, but pet overpopulation is a huge issue,” Lori explains. According to the Humane Society of the United States, each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States. It’s a staggering number, and part of what drives Lori to continue the work.
To accomplish her mission, the stay-at-home mom turned animal advocate heads out each day, sometimes logging up to 70 miles in search of homeless pets in need. “It may sound cliché, but I feel I’ve found my purpose,” Lori says. “I’m on the streets seven days a week, but this work fuels my spirit.”
While Shira, now graduated from college, no longer accompanies her mother on these daily journeys, Lori says she’s still a vital part of the non-profit. “After all, without her, Taking it to the Streets wouldn’t even exist,” Lori notes.
Thousands track the non-profit’s work through the organization’s Facebook page, where Lori documents her daily outings. The page is filled with heart-warming stories of the pets – and owners – she helps each day. “We don’t judge and we’re not trying to solve homelessness,” Lori emphasizes, noting that for too many, their pet is all they have. “We’re simply looking out for the health and welfare of the cats and dogs on the street.”