SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — A chilly morning walk to work in San Francisco’s financial district spawned a creative recycling idea that brings comfort to the homeless and their pets.
Pam Schroeder receives a heartfelt embrace from a homeless woman for a great idea Schroeder had seven years ago after walking by people living in the streets of San Francisco.
“I felt so awful for them. They seemed cold. And so did the pets,” Schroeder recalled.
She asked her husband Gary to cut her old yoga mats to make pads for the pets to sit on.
“By the time I got home that evening, Gary said, ‘So what do you think of the name Pads 4 Pets?’ I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I love that,'” Schroeder remembered.
So Gary and Pam Schroeder, who have a dog of their own, started Pads4Pets.org to serve the homeless.
“And if they’re going to stay on the street, let’s at least provide a dry, warm place for that pet,” Gary Schroeder explained.
Since 2013, Pads4Pets has given away 1,200 pads for homeless pets, with many of them offered at free veterinary clinics organized by VetSOS.
Jennifer Peterson says keeping her dogs comfortable is important because they’ve helped her stay off heroin the last three years.
“A lot of people think of the homeless, but they don’t think about the animals that we have. And the fact that we love our animals more than most people do, because they’re all we’ve got,” Peterson said.
The Schroeders have no fundraising budget and no other volunteers. They are a two-person production team.
The couple receives many yoga mat donations through word of mouth, the NextDoor app and fitness groups.
Grace Cathedral in San Francisco recently donated 70 old yoga mats that are being recycled and re-purposed into nearly 300 pet pads.
The couple say their idea can be duplicated anywhere by anyone. They’re willing to train people in their production process.
In their backyard, Gary cleans and cuts the mats, rounds the edges, and stencils them.
“It looks like something that came out of the store. I want them to be proud of it,” he said.
Billy Baker got emotional when he received a pad for his pet. He hugged Gary and Pam and thanked them for giving his best friend Toby a softer place to sleep.
“That really means a lot to us, because that helps us keep our pets,” Baker said.
“That’s why we do it. I can’t explain it. It means so much to me,” Gary Schroeder said with tears in his eyes.