Elderly Woman Living in Car with Pets

In the middle of a country full of animal lovers, a 79-year old woman says she and her pets have been forced to take shelter in her car – not because she can’t afford housing, but because she can’t find a landlord who will rent to her. And until she does, the defiant pet owner says there is no way she’ll leave her four cats and crippled dog behind.

“You make a commitment when you take on animals,” says Doris Hallquift. “I’m not going to get rid of them and tell them I don’t want them anymore.”

For several days now, the Midwest City, Oklahoma resident and her pets have been camped out in the Moose Lodge parking lot. She says she has reached out to every shelter in the area, and has been turned away by all due to strict no-pet regulations.

“They won’t take the animals and I won’t go without them,” she said.

Hallquift and her pets were recently evicted from the mobile home park they lived in because her trailer was too old. She said she receives over $1,100 dollars a month in social security payments and can afford rent. She just can’t find an apartment that allows pets.

“What we’re needing is a place to stay,” she said. “It’s not money.” Discouraged and obviously exhausted from stress, her hope is fading. “I don’t want people to think I’m crazy, but I actually pray to die because it would be easier.”

She keeps a journal, and reads a recent entry that is difficult to hear. “In case of my death or injury, please take care of my animals,” she said.

Until that day comes, or until she can find shelter for herself and her pets, Doris Hallquift says she will do everything in her power to protect them.

If you wish to offer assistance, consider contacting KFOR at 405-424-4444.

42 thoughts on “Elderly Woman Living in Car with Pets

    1. found on another facebook thread ; Amber Luttrell YES! This is my city, and after talking with a friend who runs the Pet Food Pantry (who was establishing contact to help her with dog food), I found out this lady has found a place to stay… a stranger opened her home and is allowing all the animals and this woman to reside there.

      1. THANK YOU FOR LETTING US KNOW. I DON’T THINK I COULD HAVE SLEPT TONIGHT KNOWING SHE HAD NO PLACE TO GO.

        1. Kim Pempin runs the Oklahoma City Pet Food Pantry (http://petfoodpantryokc.org/) and if people wanted to donate directly to this lady, or people in similar situations they can donate to the Pet Food Pantry and clearly specify their wishes on their donation. Unfortunately many people who find themselves homeless with pets are desperate, and this isn’t the first situation I’ve heard of – many refuse to go to homeless shelters because their pets aren’t allowed. Thanks for sharing, and I’ll email Kim to let her know to watch for donations specific to these needs.

      2. thank god!…the fact she even got to this point at her age breaks my heart…what has our society come too?…whoever allowed her and her babies to stay….is an angel and will be well rewarded for it…thank you so much for the update…god bless u…her and her babies…MERRY CHRISTMAS!…

  1. This is disgusting! This poor lady at 79 years young is out in the cold, literally! I’ve read every post, to the ones offering to ‘donate’ she doesn’t need money she can afford a place it’s a ROOF over their heads she needs and needs it now! Good grief it’s a day away from Christmas, and not one person in the State of Oklahoma can come forward and offer this sweet soul and her fur babies a home! Shame on you Oklahoma, shame on you! : (

    1. She MIGHT need donations… the article says she gets $1,000 a month. Can YOU live on that? I’ll follow through on this one and see if people are making donations to pay her expenses. Obviously, she has no furniture… where are her pots and pans? Dishes? linens? Someone needs to find out what is wrong with her trailer, whether or not it is a rental… We can’t let this story just go away. There are huge issues here to be resolved. I hope everyone who is moved by this one writes down the information and follows through.

  2. Shame on our society. At this time of year? Not one room for this lovely woman and her ‘furkids’? I hope this news will bring someone out. I live in California but if she got here, Id put her and her critters up in my spare room! Surely there’s someone there who would do the same?

  3. What is wrong with our society today? Is there not one place in the whole state of Oklahoma willing to rent to this woman WITH her pets?????

  4. I’m brokenhearted for these ANIMALS. Relationships (people and animals) are about give and take. Many people keep animals to GET love and don’t remember it’s equally important to GIVE that love in return. They are being forced to live in a car. Four cats, a crippled dog, and a person?? Living in a car?? Just so this woman can keep them all to herself? I don’t understand. Why not find good homes for them? Why not put their SAFETY and well being ahead of one’s own desire to stay together?
    Why pray to die and in the same article swear you aren’t going to leave them behind?? Why leave a note that says: “please take care of my children” but not be willing to ask for that NOW?

    1. @Anonymous- Have you ever tried rehoming animals? It’s not that easy. And if she’s 79 in living in her car, she doesn’t have the power of the internet to network them, and probably doesn’t have a lot of personal relationships to help her out either (otherwise she wouldn’t be living in her car). It’s just not that simple. I’m sure that thought (of rehoming them) has crossed her mind as well, as I am sure she worries about what will happen to them when she passes on. But it just isn’t as simple as knocking on doors or asking people who pass by if they’d like a cat or a crippled dog. I work in animal rescue and it often takes months to get perfectly healthy happy animals into a new home, and that’s with thousands of supporters networking online, and going to mobile adoptions etc.
      Hoping someone reads this article and either offers her a place to stay til she finds somewhere to rent, or offers her a rental.

      1. @peg: I’m not claiming for it to be easy… but if there’s an ARTICLE written about her that is all over the internet and a news report… why not use THAT avenue to seek homes? Why not tell the reporter, “PLEASE help me. My babies need good homes. They need to be warm and cared for. I can no longer do it alone.”

        The thought of rehoming them has NOT crossed her mind. That’s what is killing me. She says she “refuses to” go anywhere without them….”she won’t budge” <- QUOTE from the video clip.

        She said she has only gone to HUMAN shelters and they wouldn't take pets. She hasn't tried to take the PETS anywhere safe…

        Does no one consider making FIVE animals live in a car abuse? Two cats in ONE small crate in the back of a car? She even said it was so cold the night before she thought she would freeze to death. I have NO PITY for the person who makes them go through that – as a choice.

        I've worked in animal hospitals and rescued animals my entire life – and MOST of these sad situations stem from the "OWNER" putting their needs and desires ahead of the defenseless animal…. regardless of what those desires are. The desire to be LOVED, the desire to be NEEDED…

        I'm sure she feels like she NEEDS to take care of those animals herself, and I'm sure her heart is in the right place. But, sadly, some pet parents get misguided in the care of their furry friends.

        1. Anonymous,
          Did it ever occur to you that maybe these animals is all this poor old soul has? I commend her for sticking to her guns. This is why so many animals are passed on and neglected is because people are not determined to stick by them. they have feelings too!!! Doesn’t it occur to you that animals love their owners and especially with the elderly dog, might not survive. Or be put in a home where they will be passed on once again and again.

          I stand by this lady and would do EXACTLY the same thing!!!

          I’m so glad someone out there had a heart and gave this lady and her furry family a place to live. If I would have been in that area, I would have given her a place to live too, no questions asked, animals welcome too.

        2. Anonymous,
          Please have a cup of compassion before you retire. The stress of this woman’s situation does not support your strict logic. You speak of needs. Check your need to be ‘right.’

      2. Thank you Peg! You said it all.
        I hear she did find a place after all though. We had one here in Florida recently and the media attention got the woman a job and a place to live.

  5. Look at how empty that car park is. It’s not exactly crazy busy, so you’d think the owner’s of that lodge would at least offer her and her pets a warm room for a few nights. Season of giving and all that…. hmmmpphhh.
    If I lived anywhere near I’d take them all in.
    A 79 year old woman, a small dog with a disability and 4 cats, not exactly hell-raisers

  6. thank you @ Erin. i know Amber Luttrell and i was also going to contact the Pet Food Pantry but im glad someone was willing to help her. im glad to see there are other caring people out there.

  7. there needs to be a law enacted forbidding landlords from discriminating against dog owners…there are shelters bulging at the seams and people out there eager to obtain a companion animal, but cannot because apt owners or landlords ban dogs…that is obscene!

  8. First pitbulls, now people with pets. What is this society coming to? It makes me sick. I would do the same thing I were her. I wouldn’t even think of giving my animals up. They are her children. They are all she has. I pray that she gets something permanent till she leaves this earth. God help her pets when that day comes too.

  9. This wonderful woman who would rather sleep in her car than abandon her pets hs found a home for herself and all her petss according to the station that broadcast this story in OK. Whoever it was just proves…….there is a Santa Clause. And the comments I read on another part of this website are true about MI. I’m proud to live in Michigan where people accept pets even in apartment complexes for the elderly where a small pet is so very important to those who are alone. Thank you to whoever helped her out.

  10. Most of the landlords who don’t allow pets (even cats) do so even though they have pets themselves and/or donate to the Humane Society, touting themselves as people who care about animals – not enough so that owners aren’t faced with homelessness or putting their pets into the Humane Society to be euthanized (which happens far too much for older pets) – I guess these landlords like to pay for the euthanizing? How would they respond if it were their pets – up in arms they would be. These landlords live in a world of hypocrisy. I’m glad this lady found a home for herself and her pets (?family).

  11. Bless her, I pray someone will help her. I am in the opposite situation, I am being evicted because I lost my job, I am 45 years old and cant find a job making more than minimum wage even with 20 years mgmt experience. I will lose my car in another 2 weeks because my payment will be due and am at the end of any grace periods with everyone. I have 3 dogs that I love more than anything. One of them is 8 years old. I almost want to find them homes because they dont deserve to go thru what Im about to have to go thru but I am so scared she will die if she leaves me, I left her with someone for a week once and they said she was so depressed she didnt eat at all, she just layed by the door. this world and economy is so scary and I have never been in this situation, I dont know what to do or where to turn. Anyway! I really hope someone will help this lady find a place to live with her babies! Merry Christmas All!

        1. Donna,

          I very much understand how overwhelmed you are right now. You are on the verge of joining a very large portion of our population that is homeless. Take a few deep breaths to get past that reality check and then continue.

          If you don’t mind my advice, which is meant with the best of intentions, I will tell you there are a few skills that you can acquire quickly that will make things easier for you and your dogs. And please understand that I am coming from the same place as the lady in the story. My dogs and I go together. They wouldn’t have it any other way, and neither would I.

          Sell everything you have to, and take all the money you can find, beg, or borrow, and purchase a cargo van-type vehicle so that you can have shelter and house yourself and your babies. Used cargo vans are inexpensive, and are very easily remade into homeless shelters for those of us with pets. They are much safer than either official shelters or living in a box. And can be safely parked almost anywhere with none the wiser (called boondocking). Get rid of all the possessions that you don’t really need. We Americans are so attached to our stuff, and really we can do without much of it.

          Also, there is a huge internet community of information for the homeless, by the homeless, or if your prefer, travellers. You can start here:
          http://guide2homelessness.blogspot.com/2004/10/controlling-desperation.html

          And another really excellent and very positive resource:
          http://cheaprvliving.com/Easy_Van_Conversion.html
          There are all sorts of great tips at that site, including how to choose a vehicle, how to choose where to park, how to stay clean, how to boondock with pets, etc.

          There is also a Yahoo Group called Vandwellers which has many good folk in it who live full time in their vans.

          This is a terrible and difficult situation you are in. However, if you can approach it as one of life’s more serious challenges, and see it as an opportunity to simplify your life, then you can turn it back into your control.

          The key for you will be to obtain shelter. Due to money considerations, I advise a used van which can be had for very little. Even if you are older, like me, this can be made comfortable, and has been by many who are doing it now. However, if you afford a small RV, then that may also be something for you to look at. Yes, I know you are going broke, and probably don’t have the money. But look in all the places you can, and sell whatever you can. Provide yourself and your furry children with shelter. The rest will come. You are not alone.

          Good luck to you.

          1. Wow – this is wonderful information! I always wondered about the hows and the what-ifs if full-time “RV”ing, always thought it was for rich folks with fancy rigs. I had no idea you could do this inexpensively. THANK YOU for posting these links. I have been really discouraged about finding something affordable to rent where my only income is SS (no employer I ever had either paid enough of a living wage that I could save for retirement and no employer I ever had offered retirement plan) and this just may be the solution. Thank you again for sharing this really valuable info. I had also looked at the so-called “tiny houses” some of which come on axles (think itty bitty mobile homes that you can tow with even a smaller or midsize passenger car). One of the dog magazines maybe CityDog? had an article a couple years ago about a dog parent who did this, it was a really cute and manageable arrangement though you couldn’t do much cooking beyond the basics.

          2. Hi SaraKate,

            “Full-time RVing” can be an enormously expensive proposition, you are right. However, there are millions of folks in this country who are ‘off-grid’. That means they are no longer living in ways that make them traceable by government statistics. They are without homes, due to the loss of a job, loved one, domestic violence, or any other number of reasons. Entire families and their pets live in box trucks. This is not a new phenom. But the size of the community sure is.

            The ‘tiny homes’ trend is a wonderful thing, and is definitely a choice for those folks who wish to downsize and simplify. It’s a marvelous choice, I think. Think tumbleweed tiny houses:
            http://youtu.be/SbRvsWuWNUM

            However, these ‘small homes’ are incredibly expensive and are a growth industry for those who design and construct them.

            My reply to Donna was meant to address her situation which is like that of so many other millions of people. We can bemoan how evil the inequalities of wealth are, (not the individuals, per se, but the policies that create the third-world situation we find ourselves in) and we can work to rectify the laws that allow 90 year old’s to be evicted from the homes they’ve always known.

            But when push comes to shove, and you are in the situation Donna is in, and do not know what to do next, then the only way out is some sort of action. You have to know that you are not helpless, which is the way if feels when you are facing eviction with nowhere to go, and have animals and/or children depending on you.

            I do not believe this is off-topic. We are reading about a woman who chose life in her car over giving up her beloveds. There are millions of people who do that. And DO IT WELL. There is no gov’t statistic for the nomadic population of our country. But there is internet contact and information.

            Donna, if you have an unemployment check, you are better off than many of the folks I’m talking about. And they manage to keep body and soul together. Many even work full or part-time jobs from their vehicle, or work over the internet. I know because I’ve done it. The links I provided for you above will also lead you to other links that talk about how to adapt your situation to working, and where to look for online work if that is your preference. How to stay connected from a mobile lifestyle, and where to find good vets (an absolute necessity for us doggie people), as well as good places local to where you are to exercise them.

            This last link is from a woman who lives and works in a converted VW bus with her dog and her cat.
            http://cheaprvliving.com/LivingWithPets.html

            Once again, best of luck.

          3. Thank you so much for your encouragement and advice, unfortunately i will get no unemployment(no fault of mine) and i have nothing to sell of any value, im going to have a yard sale before i have to leave which will help but will not bring in any amount that will sustain any purchases.
            what i meant by losing my job is i was downsized from full time salaried mgmt to part time employee making min.wage at about 10-15 hrs a week. i am not sure the way the company handled things was legal so i will pursue that but in the meantime, im out in the cold in 2 weeks. The company is a small 2 owner company.
            I am really scared but im more scared for my dogs than myself i literally will be on the street with no car in less than a month. Im trying to use the time i have left with a home to find another job but this is a small town and i have been doing the same work for 20 years, im not trained to do anything else, i know how this sounds, yes im feeling a little sorry for myself right now but i know there are those in worse situations so im trying to not feel sorry for myself and think but im panicked and really scared

          4. Donna,

            Your situation does sound very scary. But the work situation you describe also does sound as if you should be able to collect unemployment.

            In 2009 I was downsized from “the full time Office Lady” of a two owner company here in FL, to a partial part time position. I could not sustain on that position, (couldn’t even pay for gas to get there) and that constituted a ‘layoff’. According to our state, because I was laid off, I was eligible for Unemployment. Please check again about your UC status.

            As for purchases, I can sure believe that there aren’t many coins in your piggy bank. But if you can get help from family, friends, your local churches also often will help, and can even sometimes locate donations of larger items, you might be able to come up with a few hundred dollars for used van or other vehicle. Often too, there are agencies that donate vehicles to folks in your situation. Do not rule out any and all avenues of assistance, especially your local area religious organizations! Your food stamp agencies usually have the names and contacts of the local folks and descriptions of what they do. Also there are organizations that donate pet food to folks who cannot afford it. Our local humane society takes care of that. Contact the local Humane or SPCA for info on who might do pet food donation in your area.

            If you can find a job in the next few weeks, kudos to you! I’ve been looking for two and a half years, here in small town North Central FL. Not much going on. But if you can get yourself some mobile shelter, you can continue to look for work from there.

            Good luck!

          5. Angeli some of the articles I read re the “tiny houses” were also focusing on inexpensive kits that didn’t take a lot of expertise to assemble. Not the fancy dancy schmancy ones which if fed steroids and grew bigger would grace the covers of Architectural Digest.

            Donna – you might consider trying a roommate situation until you can get on your feet. As far as the unemployment battle, depending on your home state that can range from difficult to impossible unless you are represented by an attorney. Check the yellow pages under “attorney referral” most state bar associations have a low-cost referral program and provide a toll free number to access the program. Oregon has this, the initial consultation is extremely inexpensive and an employment law attorney can advise you of your rights as far as what your company did to you.You may find that what your company did in its process of downsizing was illegal. Most dangerous to you is if your taxes have been withheld from your pay “as per usual” but the company if it was going broke didn’t pay those through to the IRS.You should plan on checking on this right away. It sounds like the company you worked for was less than ethical in its dealings and failure to pass along withheld taxes is something these types of companies do.

            Anyone who thinks getting unemployment is even remotely consistent from state to state and is “easy” — it isn’t and it isn’t. My state, Oregon, has an extremely restrictive UI benefit claim procedure with many onerous strings attached and the people who run it are – ah – not “nice” (to put it diplomatically). Probably because the state is so broke.

            Some humane societies (NOT GOVERNMENT RUN! STAY AS FAR AWAY AS YOU CAN FROM COUNTY OR CITY ANIMAL AGENCIES!!!!!) have provisions for temporary sheltering of pets while people get on their feet. You might look into this. While it does separate you from your animals temporarily it’s far better than a permanent surrender of them.

          6. SarahKate,

            good points, all.

            However, even the ‘kits’ I saw were pretty pricey, mostly the plans alone were two to three figures. Post a link if you can, I’m interested.

            I never said UC was ‘easy’, and it certainly has gotten much harder than it was in 2009. In FL now they require random drug tests, and of course the Governor’s company owns the drug labs contracted to do the tests. Lovely.

            However being ‘laid off’ as Donna was should still be covered, no matter the state. Worth a look anyway, as no stone should be unturned. Good thoughts on the legal help, if you can find some to work for free. Especially good thoughts on the taxes. Sorry for your tough experience in OR.

            The point of all of this is that folks who want to keep their animal companions while their life is collapsing do have some options. This is not a right or wrong situation, it is whatever is best for the individual and the pets. The three things that are necessary to life are shelter, water, and sustenance. Being able to sleep occasionally is a good thing as well. 🙂

            However it looks, a roommate if she has the financial resources for that, a donated vehicle if she doesn’t, the shelter for her and her babies is primary. Then food and water. If those three things are covered, then Donna, you’re doing pretty well and the rest can be taken care of in good time. And, in addition to the many NON-state agencies, there is also a mobile community to help you. I’m signing off. Good luck.

  12. I live in Oregon south of Portland and I can personally attest to how bad landlords can be and how hard it is to find a place to rent that is clean, affordable and allows pets. I am very proud to say that back in the day when I still had money and property and was myself a landlord I specifically sought tenants who had pets – particularly older persons who had pets. But now I too am frightened because I am older, no longer well off, and the modest house I have rented for 11 years is being sold because my landlord is getting a divorce and they are divying things up. I learned this in early 2011 when my landlord told me and all these months I have been looking HARD every single day for a place to rent that I can afford on SS and that will take a small, under 20 lb, mix breed adult dog. There just is nothing out there, but even worse than the “nothing out there” part — which is mostly due to so many foreclosures that former homeowners are now renters and the vacancy rate is low — even worse than that is the horrible mean nasty attitudes of landlords, that 1) if you are a tenant rather than an owner it means automatically you are some kind of character-flawed lowlife and 2) that dogs, cats, birds, ferrets – even fish – are a “d—n nuisance” and IF by some REMOTE chance they will consider you with a pet they want HUGE amounts of deposits up front. To-wit: the only place I found to rent that I could afford was your basic “roach motel” which stank of the sewer and had mold growing up the walls and oh yes the landlord wanted a $1,500 non-refundable “pet deposit” in addition to first, last, security deposit, non-refundable cleaning deposit and $100 to run a background and credit check. Unbelievable. I am now networking for another oldster like me to share with.

    In this country if you are not rich, life is very hard and very, very terrifying.

  13. This lady takes care of her animals and she is punished because she won’t leave them. Our society needs to take a long hard look at itself and make some changes. Life is hard and with jerks not allowing good people to take of themselves and the animals that they love life just stinks. I wish her the best and I was glad to see that somone let her and her animals move in. I hope that it works out.

  14. My landlord is very pet friendly. Its in Carrollton Texas though. Please contact me at [email protected] if you would like more information! I do not know if Dallas area is an option for her. I applaud her devotion to her animals, more people could learn a lot from her! <3 Merry Christmas to this beautiful soul and her beloved animals.

  15. What the woman really needs is a newer mobile home to replace her old one. Maybe, just maybe someone with the means could give her a home of her own back. I can’t imagine dealing with so much stress at her age isn’t taking a serious toll on her. And God Bless Her for keeping her family intact!

    1. Thank you Monica and everyone else, I at least have a place I can stay for a while now, I probably will lose my car, there is no way I can make $400 car payments and there is too much owed to trade it for a less expensive one and I will have to give up 2 of my dogs, I so admire the lady that this story started with and so many others that are homeless with pets but that is not a feezable option for me, though I don’t think there is anything wrong with these people keeping their dogs even though they are homeless, I just can’t do that to them, they deserve a home and to know they are going to be warm and fed and taken to the vet and groomers, I can’t provide that for them, when I got them I intended it to be a lifelong commitment to them and had I not landed in this situation it would have been but I will make 1000% sure they go to the RIGHT person and I will be doing a home visit, checking vet references, personal references. I know they will miss me and I will never forget them or stop loving and worrying about them but I will be living in 1 room with another person and it will be temporary so I can’t take them with me. My mother hates dogs and has a house full of people so she won’t help me with them. It seems the only choice I have is to try to give them as good of a life with someone who has a home for them as I they had with me before this happened. I hope no one thinks bad of me or thinks I don’t love them enough to do whatever it takes to keep them, the fact is I love them enough to let them go so they will have a better life than I can give them. If anyone has any other suggestions I am open because I don’t want to give them up and it is going to kill me when I actually have to do it.
      God Bless you all and thank you for your support and advice!

  16. Hmm thankfulky someone opened the doors to this elderly woman and her babies, there is a very similar story which many preach about, yes christmas it wasnt an old lady with dog and cats but expecting Mary and Joseph and they ended up in a stable many catholics will preach the wrong doing of the inn keepers but if they unwillibg to do the exact same thing for an elderly woman and her pets to make matters worse, christamas eve then it shows they are either not true believers or never grasped the true meqning if the word goodwill

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