But there was no pet food, and Ms Hong used Pets of the Homeless funds to buy a two-week supply until the man’s next welfare payment.
It’s been a dream of Ms Hong, 36, to start what she says is Victoria’s first pet food bank, which opened at the weekend.
Similar to food banks for people in need, the charity supplies food, leashes and bowls to soup kitchens and charity food pantries.
A $200,000 state government Pick My Project grant helped the charity rent and fit out a former mechanic’s garage in Cheltenham for the food bank, and to buy a van.
It is also Pets of the Homeless’ first real office, having previously been run from her Carrum house with the help of 40 community volunteers.
Ms Hong, 36, grew up in a small Kuala Lumpur apartment and couldn’t keep pets. She now owns two dogs and two cats, and she and partner Jonathan Coman have fostered about 30 animals.
The idea of Pets of the Homeless began more than 12 years ago when Ms Hong lived in the Melbourne CBD.
At the time, she noticed many homeless people fed their dogs before themselves. Many also chose to sleep on the street rather than accept “no pets” accommodation.
Accepting often meant the unthinkable: the pet being euthanised.
‘‘To the people that we help, pets are their family,’’ Ms Hong said.
But not having accommodation can perpetuate a vicious cycle of instability — without housing, they can’t find a job.
‘‘One woman sleeping in her car, we placed her two dogs in a boarding kennel for four weeks. She found a place to live and a job and we reunited her with her dogs.’’
Ms Hong sees the pet food bank as another way to sustain people facing a crisis.
More than food, it’s ‘‘providing someone with hope, that someone else cares about them’’.
The Pet Food Bank held two open days at the weekend, and a stream of visitors dropped off donations of goods.
One drove from Ballarat with a carload of pet food donated by clients at the vet clinic where she works.
Anyone who wants to donate funds or pet food — unopened and within its use-by date — or clean new or second-hand equipment such as blankets or bowls, can do so at www.petsofthehomeless.org.au or email email@example.com
Pets Of The Homeless is also looking for more volunteer foster carers. They must be able to care for a pet for at least two weeks, undergo a police check and have a suitable property, for example a high enough fence for the animal.
Pets Of The Homeless can cover food and vet bills if required.
Carolyn Webb is a reporter for The Age.