Update on Homeless Woman and Service Dog

On July 11th I posted Apartment Needed for Homeless Woman and Service Dog.

Here’s what finally shook out for this poor woman as passed on by Mitch Koch, senior writer at Beber Silverstein & Partners here in Miami.


The social workers in the 555 building on Miami Beach, found Maria even before I called them. They offered her temporary housing at a shelter in Homestead, the only one in the state that accepts pets (in most cases, the homeless are forced to either abandon their pets or stay on the street—most choose to stay on the street rather than be separated).

She refused the shelter, because she’d have to be separated from her little, old dog, “Foxy,” during the night. Just the thought of her and her dog being apart, even overnight, brought tears to her eyes as the dog is the only family member who will have anything to do with her (she actually has a brother in Miami, whose wife is a psychiatrist and whose daughters are stars of the Miami ballet, but they don’t talk).

I found photos of the Homestead shelter and their kennel online, then printed them out so Maria could see what it’s like down there. I discovered the kennel was built thanks to the generosity of a wealthy donor who is an animal-lover and hated the idea of the homeless having to give up their pets in order to receive shelter. I told Maria this story, showed her the pictures and it seemed she warmed up to the idea. Just a little.

Sunday she called me to ask if I’d want a large, “beautiful” blanket she couldn’t lug around anymore. I told her I wouldn’t take it, but would store it temporarily. Sunday night it rained.

Monday morning another, much larger homeless woman went berserk, grabbed Maria’s hair and began smashing her head into the concrete wall in the park. She kicked her glasses down the sidewalk. A young guy in the area ran over and probably prevented her from being killed. The police came, put the attacker in jail, and asked Maria if she wanted to press charges. She said no.

When I saw her last night, she had a pavement burn on her arm and a bump on her head. Also, that large blanket was stolen. And it rained again.

This morning, the 555 workers (amazing people) were starting at the north end of the park and working their way down to Maria, who has been residing near 5th street. She finally agreed to let one of the workers, Katie, who has befriended her, take her to Homestead to at least check out the facility in person. I think she’ll finally take them up on the offer and get off the street. The heat, the humidity, the rain, the thieves and the bump on her head may have finally convinced her.

So hopefully, Maria is now in the system and out of the park. I’ll swing by tonight to check, but I don’t expect to see her and her dog living there anymore.