Help Pete Buchmann get a car

Every day, rain or shine, Pete Buchmann walks five miles to visit his best friend, Buster.

Buchmann and Buster were inseparable until July, when Buchmann's financial resources were depleted and he found himself homeless, with no way to care for his 9-year-old pet.

"When I couldn't pay my rent any more, I moved across the street into the backyard of an empty house," Buchmann said. "I pitched a two-man tent, and it was kind of fun for about a week, but it wasn't good for Buster."

He asked police where he could take Buster, so he would be cared for until Buchman could get on his feet again. He was given contact information for Faithful Friends Animal Society in Wilmington.

His first two calls to the no-kill shelter couldn't be returned because his cell phone kept dying. Most people didn't seem open to letting him charge his phone. On his third try, he left a description of where he and Buster could be found in Claymont.

"We drove out and found them," said Lou Henderson, manager of the shelter's dog department. "We also took Pete a goodie bag with some food and things in it to help him. We brought Buster back with us and gave him his own room."

Executive Director Jane Pierantozzi was surprised, but not unhappy, to come into work and find the Rottweiler-boxer mix ensconced in one of the shelter's meet-and-greet rooms, which had been turned into an "apartment" for Buster.

"Since the financial crisis, so many people have had to give up their pets, and we have been able to place them, but Buster isn't adoptable," she said. "He's old, he has arthritis, and he's protective of and attached to Pete. Dogs like that can go down fast in a shelter. We knew if he went to a kill shelter he wouldn't survive."

According to petsofthehomeless.org, 3.5 million Americans are homeless. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of the homeless have dogs and/or cats. In some parts of the county, the rate is 24 percent.

Buchmann never dreamed he find himself in that group, living in the Sunday Breakfast Mission and unable to find a job at age 54. He'd been working since he graduated from high school, installing fiber optics, construction and several other jobs. But when the economy took a downturn, so did his life.I'm not your stereotypical homeless person," he said. "I don't drink, and I don't do drugs. There are a lot of very smart people living at the mission who are just down on their luck."

The Long Island native came to Wilmington a year and a half ago after his sister and mother, for whom he was the primary caregiver for seven years, died within weeks of each other.

Like millions of Americans hit by the financial crisis, full-time jobs turned to part-time jobs, and then into no jobs. He finally sold his car to try and hold on to his $800-a-month apartment until he could find a full-time job, but the money ran out. Never married, he has no children and no relatives to turn to.

But he has Buster.

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According to petsofthehomeless.org, 3.5 million Americans are homeless. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of the homeless have dogs and/or cats. In some parts of the county, the rate is 24 percent.

Buchmann never dreamed he find himself in that group, living in the Sunday Breakfast Mission and unable to find a job at age 54. He'd been working since he graduated from high school, installing fiber optics, construction and several other jobs. But when the economy took a downturn, so did his life.

"I'm not your stereotypical homeless person," he said. "I don't drink, and I don't do drugs. There are a lot of very smart people living at the mission who are just down on their luck !

Pete Buchmann, 54, gets a kiss from his 9 year-old dog Buster, while visiting him in a private room at Faithful Friends.

The Long Island native came to Wilmington a year and a half ago after his sister and mother, for whom he was the primary caregiver for seven years, died within weeks of each other.

Like millions of Americans hit by the financial crisis, full-time jobs turned to part-time jobs, and then into no jobs. He finally sold his car to try and hold on to his $800-a-month apartment until he could find a full-time job, but the money ran out. Never married, he has no children and no relatives to turn to.

But he has Buster.

"I am just amazed at his attitude," Pierantozzi said. "He walks two-and-a-half miles each way every day to see Buster, and then he spends two or three hours helping us walk the dogs. Most people in his situation would be depressed and angry, but he isn't."

Pierantozzi has been so impressed with Buchmann's devotion to Buster, his demeanor and his willingness to work that she is reaching out to her contacts in hopes of finding him a full-time job. He's also working a few hours a week at the shelter, but since the shelter is 100 percent funded by donations and funding is down this month, there's no room in the budget for more.

"Pete has been so resilient through all his trials," she said. "It's bad enough to lose your home, but to not know what's going to happen to your pet is horrible. I just hope there are people out there that can help."

Buster has settled into his new routine, walking slowly with Buchmann or his favorite shelter employees and volunteers on what has become his habitual route and playing with his favorite toy, an orange tennis ball.

Buchmann is counting his blessing for having a clean, Christian place to live and for Faithful Friends making a special exception for Buster, with whom he hopes to be reunited soon.

"He's my buddy; he's been with me through everything," he said. "He seems content here, and he knows now that I'm coming back, that he hasn't been deserted.

"Faithful Friends helped me save my faithful friend. I'll be grateful forever. I have nothing to complain about."

Story from Delawareonline

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Donna Dennis-Vandenheuvel 
Organizer
Wilmington, DE
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