With support from City of Phoenix District 4 Councilwoman Laura Pastor, Community Bridges, Midwestern University, Phoenix Suns Charities and other community partners, Hunkapi Programs, an equine therapy farm located in the heart of Scottsdale, is excited to announce the official launch of its Sit. Stay. Heal. program on Saturday, May 1. This collaborative effort is the first of its kind in the nation and will focus on providing dogs a safe place to live while their owners transition from living on the streets to securing more permanent housing.
“Helping those experiencing homelessness is a cause very close to my heart,” said Councilwoman Laura Pastor. “The idea for Sit. Stay. Heal. came after my team met a man whose family was in shelter, but he was living on the streets with his pet, who was not allowed in the shelter. This story has stuck with me over the years and put a fire in me to help homeless pets and their owners. Thanks to Terra Schaad, our vision is now a reality. I am so proud of Sit. Stay. Heal.”
With expertise provided by the Midwestern University Veterinary Shelter team, Hunkapi transformed an unused horse barn into a shelter that can house up to 15 dogs whose owners are experiencing homelessness and seeking support through Community Bridges. The dogs will stay on property for as long as 16 weeks and receive veterinary care from the university, supervision from a “woof pack” manager at the farm, and general support from community volunteers.
“A large obstacle for people experiencing homelessness to seek treatment is having a pet,” says Terra Schaad, Executive Director of Hunkapi Programs. “The fear of not knowing where their four-legged friend might end up while they get rehabilitated can deter them from making any big changes. With this program, we are guaranteeing that their pets not only will be safe and taken care of but will still be theirs after they get back on their feet.”
A variety of private donors and Valley businesses contributed to the barn’s remodel, but the project needs an additional $40,000 in funding to keep the animals cool, comfortable, and healthy during their stay at the farm.
Hunkapi, based in Scottsdale, brings to the Valley a variety of horse powered activities for children and adults including: therapeutic riding lessons, equine assisted psychotherapy and garden therapy. Most of the lessons come from the horses, who gently guide clients toward greater mindfulness of self and others. The name is taken from a Native American word that means “I am related to everyone” and expresses the deep sense of connection between horse and human.