The latest New Yorker of the Week is working to reduce the number of four-legged residents in shelters by taking care of some the pressures their owners going are through. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
Jessica Martin understands the unconditional love many have for their pets. When she worked at an animal shelter, it was difficult seeing owners being forced to give them away.
"They had to choose between their own food and animal food," Martin said. "For most of us, our pets are family, and when you have to decide what’s really more important, it really can break their heart. Wow. It’s like, that could be me, tomorrow. You know, where would I go?"
Those facing that emotional decision can now go to Jessica. Last year, she founded Healthy Pets Project of NYC. The nonprofit helps pet owners in crisis take care of their four-legged friends.
"What that does is, that allows the owner to sort of get back on their feet," Martin said. "They don’t have to worry how their furry friend is going to eat and survive."
"I can't even imagine the idea of giving her away. Not being able to see her every morning, be with her, play with her, like, no. I think it would kill me," said Valentina Bunster, a pet owner. "What she's doing is really important for the community."
Healthy Pets Project provides free or low-cost services. Donations go directly to food, vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and medical needs.
Thanks to Jessica, Buddha is getting surgery for his knee.
"He's always here for us and our family, you know, and he'll always be family," said Jose Otero, Buddha's owner. "If it wouldn't be for Healthy Pet Projects and Jessica, the work that he needs done would take a whole lot longer for me to get him help and get him healthy the way he needs to be."
Healthy Pets Project has nurtured hundreds of companions across the five boroughs, and Jessica makes sure the whole family is informed and inspired as well.
"Everybody's getting by with nothing, especially in this city, and are just, don’t know what to do, don’t literally know what to do if they have a sick pet. And the fact that she offers these services is life-saving," said pet owner Miriam Sakol.
So, for encouraging pet owners while keeping their best friends healthy, Jessica Martin is the latest New Yorker of the Week.
For more information about the organization, visit healthypetsnyc.org.