COVINGTON, Ky. — On Sunday morning, John Saladin went inside the Church of Christ on Garrard Street for a few minutes to gather blankets for himself, his dog, Lucy, and Lucy's four newborn puppies.
"She was literally like a little human being," said Saladin. "She'd do everything that anyone said to her. I miss her so much."
When he came out, he said Lucy was lying in a puddle of blood, shot to death by a Covington Police officer. Police said they were responding to a call about stray dogs in the area and the department said the dog tried to attack the officer who fired the shot that killed Lucy.
"She made my life worth living," said Saladin, who spoke to WCPO by phone because he's currently in a hospital for care due to his current mental state. "She was very protective of me. Many times on those streets people tried to rob me and even worse and she stopped that from happening."
Shelters do not often have room for pets, unless they're licensed service animals, but caring for pets and animals can be important to the mental health of those experiencing homelessness.
"It is a comfort," said Kim Webb, executive director of the Emergency Shelter of NKY. "It is a protection for someone who lives outside. It's a sense of warmth. It can help keep them warm. There's a sense that if the world is against you or you're struggling that at least you have your pet."
Webb said the Emergency Shelter of NKY is hoping they'll be able to, depending on space and permits in Covington, allow those who stay at the shelter to bring their pets inside with them. The shelter also works to find private kennels if animals cannot be cared for by their owners.
Saladin said he's just hoping he can reunite with Lucy's puppies, who are currently being fostered.
"To be honest, the one thing that's keeping me from feeling like I have nothing to live for right now is that I've got to take care of Lucy's babies," he said.
Covington Police said they responded to the call about stray dogs because animal control is closed on the weekends. The shooting is still under investigation and police said body camera footage is being reviewed.