Harold has been retired for more than a decade. And his two dogs, Rocky and Midnight, are his constant companions. They start every morning with a walk, can be found most days sitting on their front porch, and in the evenings enjoying dinner that Harold makes special just for them.
Harold will tell you that his dogs give his life purpose — they are his support system and provide unconditional love. But veterinary care is expensive for aging dogs and can often be out of reach on his fixed income.
That is where Beyond Fences comes in; for more than a decade Harold and his dogs have been part of the Beyond Fences family. Beyond Fences is a non-profit based in Durham, NC, focused on increasing equity in access to pet resources for people experiencing poverty and living in underserved areas.
Since 2007, Beyond Fences has provided services like veterinary care, pet food and supplies to loving pet owners like Harold. We also provide spay and neuter services, pay pet fees to landlords, shelter fees to reunite pets with their families, and fences for outdoor dogs. All at no cost to people. We work every day to create a comprehensive support system for our community.
The Beyond Fences people-centered and community-based approach has meant that hundreds of families each year have what they want and need for their pets to stay healthy, happy members of their families.
Everything we do is guided by the philosophy that a deep connection with pets transcends boundaries of socio-economics, race, ethnicity, and geography, and that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the benefits, joy, and comfort that come from the human-animal bond.
Our Durham community is special to us, but Durham is not unique. In every community around the United States, there are pockets of concentrated poverty and pet resource deserts with little to no access to veterinary care and other pet services.
Nationally, tens of millions of pets live in poverty with their families who face layers of barriers to accessing pet resources — barriers that exist because of structural poverty and institutional inequity, like transportation, housing insecurity, and financial limitations.
Our mission, and our hope for the larger animal welfare movement, is to extend concern and compassion to pets and their people. Our dream is for a system that values and invests in creating equity and offers respect and dignity to everyone.
Animals are a great reminder of how we are all much more alike than we are different. The love of pets is universal and brings people together in a beautiful and profound way. We take seriously our responsibility to elevate awareness and increase understanding of the challenges far too many people face in accessing pet resources.
We feel very lucky to know Harold and for his generosity in sharing his story. We have met thousands of kind, loving people over the last 15 years and are grateful that through our work, we are able to honor the love people have for their pets. To support Beyond Fences, please visit beyondfences.org.
Lori Hensley is Beyond Fences’ Director of Operations