Montreal sisters distribute supplies to help homeless and their pets
A recent story about a homeless person’s dog freezing to death has galvanized two Montreal sisters to help both people and animals stay warm on the streets this winter.
On Saturday, sisters Samantha and Sara Capobianco, along with a group of friends, started distributing bags filled with cold-weather necessities such as blankets, boots, socks, jackets and hats as well as items for pets, like dog beds.
“We saw an article a few weeks ago that the homeless man and his dog had nowhere to turn on a cold night and the dog ended up passing away in his arms,” Samantha Capobianco told CTV News.
The group had raised money to purchase some of the items while others were donated.
“It's not fair that one person is in their bed warm at night and another person, depending on their life circumstances, is on the street,” the sisters’ friend, Claudia Giovanniello, added.
Sabrina Sabbah, the founder of Velvet Hearts Canada, a volunteer-based organization that also helps the homeless and their animals, said life on the streets can be lonely. She believes that the responsibility of tending to a pet can create an important sense of purpose for the homeless.
“Catering to their dog or their cat becomes their priority,” she explained. “They now understand that they're taking care of something that’s a living, breathing creature that has needs and it helps them afterwards address their own.”
But having a pet can also create challenges. Many homeless shelters in cities, including Montreal, do not accept animals. Taking public transit can also be difficult, as Montreal requires all pets to be in a cage or other closed carrier for the duration of the trip.
“The fact that they can't take the metro to go to a shelter if a shelter accepted them,” Sabbah said of her city. “They're really stuck on the streets.”
The group hopes that they were able to make a difference for some of the people they met.
“We have everything,” Samantha Capobianco said. “We’re so thankful for our families, our friends. We have roofs and we want to give the other people things to be thankful for as well.”