CLEVELAND, Ohio — It is a beacon in the Slavic Village Community: A safe place for people who consider pets as loved ones -- and sometimes the only family they have.
"They're here for me unconditionally. She's special protection for me. She would guard me with her life."
Vesna Cisar is talking about Neighborhood Pets and the care it has showed her and her beloved dog Sadie.
The outreach and resource center offers low-cost pet food, spay and neuter services, vaccines and more.
But the shop and wellness center is much more than that.
"What we find is that a lot of times people will provide for their pets before they provide for themselves. And that is the constant theme across the board," said Becca Britton, Founder and Executive Director of Neighborhood Pets.
"Most people in this neighborhood are on a fixed income. And some of us can't afford cat food or dog food. And I come here and actually get their food. They never turn me down," said Betty, who is a loving companion to her two cats, "Tiger" and "Benny Foots."
Working with social service organizations and community partners allows Neighborhood Pets to do more -- especially at a time when more is needed.
"You can get help for a gas bill or electric bill, which is helpful because right now I'm struggling," Cisar shared. "I'm homeless on top of being disabled. So that helps a lot. And they're trying to find me a place to stay right now, too. So they're amazing people. I don't know what I would do without them."
Neighborhood Pets is a 501c3 organization, serving about 6,000 households in Cleveland who are in financial need.
"The demand has doubled from 2021 numbers to 2022. It's just been incredible," Britton said.
Monetary donations, dry dog and cat food for the pantry top the organization's needs list.
But Neighborhood Pets' mission remains the same: To provide affordable resources, so all pet owners -- regardless of income level -- can care for and keep their pets.
"It's impossible to get rid of your animal. They're part of you," Cisar said.
You can learn more about how you can help Neighborhood Pets continue their mission HERE.
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated pets story on March 22, 2023.