Unity for Animals is a 501c3 organization. We are a transitional foster house that keeps dogs and cats safe until they are ready to be transported to their rescue or a more permanent adopter. We help the city by staying connected, and organize campaigns around the issues that impact animals and the greater Memphis area. We strive to unify and strengthen our community so we can work towards having a local shelter that does not euthanize animals for time and/or space. It is also our mission to inform the community of the programs available for inexpensive spay, neuter and pet vaccination services. We want to educate our neighbors about the importance of spaying and neutering, responsible pet ownership, and pet surrender alternatives, especially within at-risk communities. One of our objectives is to turn compassion into action, and it is our goal to promote the inclusion of at-risk children by empowering them to become animal advocates.
There are more than 200 million stray dogs worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates about 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters every year. Animal shelters have limited space, so with that many animals coming in, there’s really only two options for the animals: find a new home FAST or get euthanized. A network of rescuers across the country wants to help save the most at risk animals—those on an “urgent” list, that are next in line to be put down. These rescuers often face situations where animals are forced to leave the shelters and the rescuers rely on local fosters or Pet Placement Partners (PPP) to keep the animals until they can get adopted or at least transported to a new rescuer. Fosters can save lives, but are so hard to find. People don’t realize that it’s really easy to be a foster! You just need to be willing to open your home and your heart for a brief period of time and you can make a huge impact. Most rescues even provide food and bedding, so there’s not even any added expense!
In most large cities in America, animals aren’t the only ones being neglected—some communities are also being left behind. The federal Healthy Homes Work Group reports that millions of Americans suffer from poor housing conditions, including dilapidated structures; roofing problems; heating, plumbing, and electrical deficiencies; water leaks and intrusion; pests; damaged paint; and radon gas (US Department of Housing and Urban Development 2013). Estimates suggest that more than 30 million housing units have significant physical or health hazards and substandard and inadequate housing disproportionately affects poor and low-income individuals, children, people of color, and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions (US Department of Housing and Urban Development 2013). In Memphis alone, there are approximately 10,000 blighted properties in various states of neglect and disrepair (Jaglois 2019). These properties can bring down home values and attract crime, trash, or rodents and it takes such a long time for anything to be done about them.
What We Have Accomplished
Fabiola Francis saw the urgent issue of animal abandonment around the city and in 2016, she decided to make a difference one step at a time. With municipal shelters being consistently full, and the lack of foster placement, the need to create a foster-based home came about. She founded Unity for Animals, a 501c3 organization, to fight for animals and reduce urban blight. She saw that both of these issues could be improved if we just tried to spread a little more love and education around. Her vision was, “What if we open a place that could house a few dogs in need, provide shelter and food and at the same time be in the parts of the city that have disadvantaged children and low resources.” We could fight blight and animal neglect—the properties need a purpose and the animals need a home. This would open the doors to educate people and at the same time be vested in the community. Fabiola saw an abandoned house on a land bank sale and after putting in a little money and love, Unity For Animals was open. It now continues its mission, providing food and shelter to humans and animals alike. Over the past two years, Unity For Animals has provided a temporary shelter for over 70 animals. Check out the gallery for an updated look at our impact!
Unity Foster House Journey
The Unity Foster House now exists in the Frayser neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee. Fabiola looked for the location for a long time. One day, she drove past this abandoned location and felt like it was perfect—a house with a great backyard and in the right neighborhood. It used to be a childcare house, but had been boarded up for the past 7 years. Fabiola really liked this house, but was worried about being outbid again. So, as she was passing by, she said a little prayer: “God, if this is meant to be, let no one else bid on it.” She put down the initial bid and just a few days later, the city called back and asked her if she wanted to complete the purchase. And just like that, the Unity Foster House was born.