After volunteering with an animal shelter and helping stray dogs find homes, 17-year-old Shira Rich noticed how many homeless people had pets that needed care.

She persuaded her mother, Lori, to accompany her as she brought food and water to the animals of Riverside, California’s homeless population, and what started as the occasional handout developed into the nonprofit Taking it to the Streets with Lori and Shira.

“My daughter got me involved with animals running in the streets,” Lori told The Press-Enterprise. “A couple of times we’d be chasing strays, and it didn’t dawn on me that people in the streets had dogs. It’s not easy for them to take care of animals.”

Two years later, Lori and Shira are still caring for Riverside’s homeless pets on a daily basis.

They collect donated items and deliver them to people and pets in need. In addition to pet food, leashes and clean water, they also bring blankets, toiletries, clothing and gift cards.

Lori and Shira have also paid for more than 40 pets to be spayed or neutered, licensed and microchipped, with the goal of preventing pet overpopulation in the homeless community.

"To me, the animals have no voice,” Lori said. “Even if the people choose to be out here, the animals don't make that choice, the people make it for them and I feel it's important that if they're out here, somebody is watching out for them."

To learn more about Taking it to the Streets with Lori and Shira and how you can help homeless pets in your area, visit the nonprofit’s Facebook page.

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