Family With Emotional Support Animals

May 26, 2020

An Odessa woman and her two daughters are living in tents in the parking lot of Kingston’s Belle Park because they cannot find emergency housing that will accept their emotional support animals.

Kelly Hennessey and her two daughters, ages 12 and 13, left their home in Odessa after feeling unsafe living in the same triplex with a neighbour who was allegedly exhibiting dangerous behaviour and uttering threats against them.

They brought with them Hennessey’s pot-bellied pig and her daughter’s St. Bernard, both registered emotional support animals that the family will not leave behind.

“My daughter has PTSD and anxiety issues from a car crash,” Hennessey said. “I’ve had six hip surgeries and also have anxiety and ADHD. (The animals) are there to support us.”

On the advice of police, Hennessey was put in touch with Lennox and Addington Interval House, who told Hennessey to leave the situation and that they would find her and her daughters emergency housing in a Napanee motel.

Two weeks later, the family was evicted from the motel — Hennessey believes because of her support animals.

Frustrated by the situation, Hennessey purchased camping gear and moved herself and her children into a quarry in Napanee while they waited for emergency housing. But shortly after, they were asked to leave by local police.

From there, when none of the available community shelters would accept the animals, Hennessey was directed to join the tent camping community at Belle Park.

On Friday, the trio and their emotional support animals —a pot-bellied pig and a St. Bernard — arrived at the entrance to Belle Park, where approximately 30 homeless have been living in tents for the past several weeks.

Chrystal Wilson has been offering support to the residents of the tent community most days and raising money online for the community at her project

Wilson was at Belle Park when Hennessey arrived. She immediately took on the role of advocate for the family and started to help them navigate Kingston’s shelter system.

“I’m just a person,” she said. “I just happened to have witnessed how it went down.”

Wilson has been helping Hennessey call local shelters and see how they can get a space. Most won’t take the animals that come along with the Hennessey family, and others are saying the animals would have to be crated indoors, which they have not been trained to do.

“I’ve given up,” Hennessey admitted, in tears. “I just don’t want to fight anymore.”

While Wilson said she feels “relatively safe” at the Belle Park camping site when she’s there volunteering, she doesn’t believe it’s a place for a family to live. There’s no running water and no means for cooking food.

Hennessey said that while the Belle Park tent community has been welcoming, she feels unsafe camping in the lot off of Montreal Street. She said she has had items stolen.

“It’s kind of scary,” she said. “We’ve had our stuff stolen last night — an air bed and some cigarettes. But it’s OK. Someone needed them more than we did.”

On Sunday afternoon, when no shelters had stepped up to assist, Wilson paid for a hotel room for the family out of her own pocket.

“These kids can’t live here,” Wilson said. “No kids should live here.”

But when Wilson went to move the family in late Sunday afternoon, the hotel she had lined up — which was pet friendly — said no to the pot-bellied pig. She later found another hotel that agreed to allow the family to stay.

Wilson has started house hunting for the family, who has ready access to enough funds to pay rent somewhere and who simply need to find a safe, temporary place to escape a violent and dangerous home.

Hennessey described Wilson as “a godsend” during a moment in her life that she had never foreseen.

“When I was asked to leave my home, I was promised housing. It was supposed to be temporary. This was not supposed to … .”

Hennessey broke down.

“There’s such a lack of communication with everything happening right now.”

Hennessey and her children have been prepared to camp until they find a house, if need be.

“My daughter is the victim,” she said. “She should not have to surrender her animal or leave it behind so that we can find a place to live. I’ll move to a campground. They’re family. You’re asking me to choose between my children.”

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    June 2, 2021

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    January 8, 2021

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    January 8, 2021

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    January 8, 2021

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    January 7, 2021

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    January 7, 2021

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    January 7, 2021

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more

    Police Dog Attack

    January 7, 2021

    A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday could put to rest a lawsuit filed by Teri Lynn Ehlers, an employee of the Patch Motel, who was bitten by a Duluth police dog named Oakley. Former Duluth Police Officer Marc Johnson was a registered guest of the Warroad establishment May 28, 2018, when […]

    Read more

    PAWS With A Cause

    January 7, 2021

    Pebble Hill Plantation and the Thomas County Public Library are pleased to announce the upcoming Enlightening Bites program, “PAWS With a Cause,” on Friday, January 8, 2021 at noon in the Flipper Room of the Library. The program is being presented by Jeri Anderson, field representative. Anderson is recently retired from the City of Monticello, […]

    Read more

    Police Canine Team

    January 7, 2021

    Kingston Police revealed in a news release late Wednesday afternoon that they’ve been keeping a four-legged secret for roughly three months. The force announced it added a second canine unit, with the arrival of police service dog Dak this past October. He is working with Const. Jeff Dickson, while police service dog Bask is working […]

    Read more

    More Recent News