“Sometimes a dog is the only friend to a homeless person,” said KUSI TV’s Brandi Williams. “It’s not uncommon for homeless people to go hungry just so their dogs can eat.”
Never one to shy away from a cause, Williams, a noted animal rights activist, is one of those special individuals who comes up with great ideas, and then works night and day to make them happen. She stirred the pot with her latest idea and used her celebrity cachet to bring attention to the cause. Before she was finished Williams had created a major fundraising drive to provide food and bedding for homeless pets in San Diego.
On November 22 and 30, Williams hosted two major events in conjunction with Father Joe’s to round up donations for homeless pets, and then to distribute them. The Cozy Companion Pet Drive brought in so much in the way of donations that she had to “beg borrow and steal” trucks, containers, storage areas, and recruit dozens of people to help store and distribute the goods.
Bluewater Boathouse Grill was a participant November 30, at St. Vincent de Paul’s Village, downtown San Diego. Bluewater was one of six trucks that pulled into their parking lot and set up tables. By 10 a.m. more than 200 homeless, most with their dogs in tow, stood in line to receive pet food, snacks, medicine, clothing and bedding materials.
Bluewater’s chefs cooked up 400 special homemade Bark Treats. Small plastic baggies were filled with the bones, which were made from rolled oats, peanut butter, panko and honey, and then distributed to the homeless.
“We were so glad to have Bluewater Boathouse represented,” said Brandi Williams. “They are always very helpful to us at KUSI and it was a joy to work with them this year.”
As she spoke, a homeless veteran walked up with his tiny Chihuahua, named “Big Foot.” Williams found a little sweater outfit for the small dog and stopped everything to put the Chihuahua into the miniature winter coat to keep him warm.
“I volunteer at the rescue mission here at Father Joe’s,” she said. “At first I was really quick to judge, thinking these people can barely take care of themselves, how can they take care of an animal?
“Very soon I realized that these pets are all they have – their best friends, their brothers or sisters, their parents or children. Often they feed their dogs before they feed themselves.”
On Nov. 22, Williams, along with Deacon Jim Vargas of St. Vincent De Paul’s and Father Joe’s Villages, staged the Cozy Companion Pet Drive. Unbelievable amounts of donations poured in, requiring them to ask for help to handle the gifts. The San Diego Humane Society offered to store the massive amount of donations until the second event Nov. 30.
“EDCO donated containers, the Humane Society lent their facilities, Bluewater Boathouse came through for us with a ton of their home-cooked doggy bones,” said Williams. “It was a dream come true.”
Deacon Jim Vargas, who has been on the job for just ten months, is the president and CEO of St. Vincent de Paul’s. “Brandi had called me a few weeks ago very excited about this idea of hers,” said Deacon Vargas. “We take care of our homeless, but a lot of these individuals have pets, and they are very important to them. Many of them have lost everything, and that pet is pretty much all they have left. The animal often becomes part of their healing. We’re so grateful to Brandi and KUSI for bringing this event together with us. And we definitely hope it’s an annual event.”
The mission of St. Vincent de Paul and Father Joe’s Villages is to end homelessness one life at a time. For information on how you can help, call 1-800-HOMELESS, or visit my.neighbor.org.
“We were delighted to be asked to participate in feeding homeless pets,” said Steve Ewing, general manager at Bluewater Boathouse. “Our restaurant is dog friendly, and this was an opportunity to put something back into the community at large. We look forward to being a part of this great event next year again.”
Coronado’s Bluewater Boathouse is located at 1701 Strand Way, across from the historic Hotel del Coronado. A special dog menu endorsed by Coronado PAWS is available to visiting dogs and their owners. Seating is available on the north and south-enclosed patio areas of the Boathouse for pet dining.
For more information, or for reservations, call (619) 435-0155. You can also follow Bluewater Grill on Facebook and Twitter. The restaurant is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., serving lunch, brunch and dinner. For more information visit Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill on Facebook, or their website at www.bluewatergrill.com/locations/coronado.