FRESH DIRT > Dogs join the ranks at Occupy Santa Cruz
Dogs have become a common sight at Occupy demonstrations all over the country, and Santa Cruz is no exception. As the number of supporters in front of the Santa Cruz Courthouse has grown, so too has the canine population at the tent encampment in San Lorenzo Park.
Gayla Faahs, who has been protesting at the Santa Cruz site since day one, is a former animal rescue worker and has accepted the role of unofficial doggie caretaker. Faahs estimates that there are about 10 to 15 dogs living alongside the protestors.
“People can go to the protests, or job searches, or any other appointment, and I’m here,” she says. “I help with feeding the dogs and with some minor animal care. People don’t have to worry about leaving their dog with someone they don’t know, or losing the dog, or getting a ticket.”
Dogs are officially prohibited from San Lorenzo Park, but many dog owners have no other choice but to keep their companion by their side.
Patrick Muniz has been traveling with his wife Sandy and his dog Smoky for several months since they were forced to leave their home when they could no longer afford the cost of rent and utilities. Muniz says he considered finding a new home for the dog, but at seven years old, the two have bonded past the point of separation.
“I can’t leave him and he can’t leave me,” says Muniz.
Today, the striking husky with one blue eye and one brown eye, sits calmly next to his owner’s tent. Like the human protestors around him, Smoky waits patiently for his turn to get a taste of the newly-arrived Domino’s pizza. Although the protestors have had plenty of human food donated to them recently, dog food is still entirely provided by the owners and other protestors.
PHOTO: Occupier Patrick Muniz with his dog Smoky. Photo by Irena Eaves.