Diann Wears doesn’t have much. The blankets and clothes take up a lot of the space in her shopping cart, some in a large suitcase and others in garbage bags. She has a few toiletries and medications, some bottles of water and snacks, a bent kitchen pot, a large blue tarp, two dog dishes, and a bin full of dog food. And then there’s Cow, a 6½-year-old white boxer mix with a large black patch over the left side of her face, a pouty underbite, and a signature one-sided wiggle used to greet those she knows and likes. Diann recently left her ex-boyfriend of five years. She had already endured emotional abuse for several years when things escalated. “I don’t know what my ex would have done,” Diann said. “Cow is my first priority. She is everything to me.” But her four-legged companion is also her primary barrier to accessing services. Even simple tasks like attending a free meal, using the bathroom, and going to appointments are more complicated for Diann. Finding housing is Diann’s biggest continuing struggle. Because she cannot bear to lose Cow, she has been unable to stay in local homeless shelters.
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