Mary Brosnahan joined New York City’s Coalition for the Homeless in 1989 and became Director two years later. After coming to New York, Brosnahan was stunned by how many people were living on the streets and resolved to solve this tragic problem.
The Coalition for the Homeless (www.coalitionforthehomeless.org) provides services for over 3,500 New Yorkers each day. They assist the homeless in creating a better life for themselves through programs such as permanent housing, a mobile soup kitchen, a summer camp for children, and job placement. Mary has helped expand these services to include legal services for the disadvantaged and crisis intervention assistance.
Animal Fair got to speak with Mary Brosnahan and hear about her work and her dog, Jake. Take a look at how close Brosnahan is to her canine coworker!
AF: Will you tell us a little about your dog?
MB: Jake’s a Jack Russell. I got her before Jack Russell’s got popular. I had been wanting one for a while, and my boyfriend at the time knew someone up in Danbury, Connecticut who happened to have a litter. I love Jack Russells, because they’re like big dogs in a small dog’s body – loveable but fierce. She’s been coming into the office with me ever since she was a baby.
AF: Are there other dogs at the office.
MB: Some other people bring their dogs in. There’s another Jack Russell and a chihuahua – a few dogs come in, but Jake definitely comes in the most. Most of the others just come in for a day here and there. All of the dogs stay in their owners’ offices though, so they don’t really get to interact with one another. That’s probably a good thing since Jake doesn’t really get along with too many other dogs.
AF: Do you take Jake with you around the city and when you travel?
MB: It’s hard around the city, because she sees other dogs and wants to start a fight with them. Jack Russells have a Napoleon complex – she’ll bark at Rotweillers! She’s also getting old and has had some very serious health issues. That makes it hard to travel with her, but she absolutely loves the Catskills. We’ll drive up there and she’ll chase chipmunks and run around our neighbors’ houses.
AF: Does your concern for the homeless include homeless pets?
MB: Homeless people used to show up with their pets, so I tried to get some of the shelters at churches and synagogues to take in pets too. The idea was to have a dog cage next to the beds. But it never worked out. The homeless get really attached to their pets, because it’s their sole companion who will be there for them no matter what. It’s hard to then have to give up your pet when you get to a shelter.