Nonprofit ensures no dog suffers
Beck’s Place helps pet owners while they attend to personal needs
Jim Scolman photo
Cindy Ladd, of Monroe, with Scarlett and Stella, bottom right, at Wiggly Field in Monroe. Scarlett, a 6-year-old Australian and German Shepherd mix that hopped on top of the tube, came to Cindy and John Ladd from Beck’s Place, a countywide foster program for pets
that is based in Monroe. Stella, who is a Catahoula leopard dog mix, is the Ladd’s pet. Before being fostered, Scarlett was living
with her owner’s family in a car, Ladd said. ”When the family gets on its feet we will return Scarlett to her home,” she said.
MONROE — Melanie Ryan knows the power of pets.
Her dog Beck, a Labrador mix, has changed not only her life but the lives of hundreds of others through Beck’s Place, a nonprofit that helps low-income people house their animals with kind strangers while they transition housing or receive medical care.
“He taught me a different kind of joy I didn’t have before, a different kind of love. He taught me to redefine what family looks like,” Ryan said. “So I understand why people seeking services would choose their pets over themselves.”
Ryan holds a Master’s degree in social work. She also has a long background in the financial industry, and has always been interested in philanthropy.
“I wanted to do something to combine these types of skills, and to give back to the community,” she said.
Beck provided the perfect impetus.
Founded in 2015, Beck’s Place uses a network of volunteer foster homes to house pets — primarily dogs and cats — for weeks to months before reuniting with their owners.
Beck’s Place gives food and a collar and leash to foster parents, and covers all veterinary bills while the foster pet is in their care.
Without someplace to leave their pets, Ryan said, most people will sacrifice their own treatment. Some even choose to live in cars until they can find housing that accommodates their furry friends.
“When you’re at an unstable place in life, an animal can be the only source of emotional stability you have,” said
Claire Robinson, Beck’s Place executive director. “When you go in for treatment without a big support network, there aren’t a lot of options.”
One former client, Janet, doesn’t mince words on how it helped.
“I probably wouldn’t be here right now” without her dog, she said.
When her number suddenly came up to enter a program for an eating disorder, Janet had nowhere to keep her 9-year-old Husky-Lab mix, Ladybug, until she found Beck’s Place.
“They were awesome. Claire kept me updated with text and pictures every week,” she said. “Their staff was very responsive and helpful.”
Now Janet volunteers to foster cats for Beck’s.
“I want to help somebody else out like I was helped out,” she said. “It’s one of those pay it forward things.”
Going forward, Beck’s Place future is tenuous.
It almost folded last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, if not for an unexpected bequeathment from Pamela Siegried, who died of cancer.
With the state moratorium on rental evictions expiring Oct. 31, Ryan said calls are increasing significantly. About half of Beck’s clients are experiencing housing instability.
“We usually have way more demand than we have capacity,” Ryan said.
Beck’s Place has about 30 volunteer foster families and one paid employee. It relies for income on donations and grants.
Eventually Ryan would like to buy a mobile services van, and then her own facility.
She’s prepared, though, if those plans fall through.
“I don’t really worry,” she said. “We will do this as long as it makes sense, as long as we have funds, and as long as the community supports us.
“Whatever the future holds, we’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of families.”
How to reach Beck’s Place
Call or text 425-419-8992 or go to www.becksplace.org
* - Janet is not this person’s real name. She requested her real name not be printed for personal reasons.
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