Joseph Perez sits beside a battered shopping cart filled with street-collectables. Seated on the cart is his most precious possession, a prince with a bone named Shorty.
The round-bellied corgi-Jack Russell terrier mix travels with his own possessions. There are chew toys and more than a dozen various-sized stuffed animals propped up beside him.
Tucked into a corner of the cart is a small purple cup for donations. On the front hangs a sign that says, “Can you please help us out today. Thank you for your kindness. Have a good day. Woof-Woof.”
Perez, 53, is among the small number of the roughly 3,000 homeless population who would rather keep a pet than have a roof over their heads.
“The folks on the street are mainly interested in surviving. They don’t think having a pet to care for is a very good survival strategy,” says Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst at the Coalition for the Homeless. “The majority, in order to get shelter or housing have to give the pets up, at least for some period of time and that’s a very hard thing to do.”
For Perez, who has a weathered but handsome face, that’s unthinkable. He and his late wife, Christina, found the abandoned dog on 110th St. and Lexington Ave. about six years ago.
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