Sign In

Officer Helps Struggling Woman

September 1, 2020

Demitris Gonzalez is legally blind and disabled, and at one point, she was living in a tent in the woods.

Her life changed when she met a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer who rallied the community to help her.

Gonzalez is a senior citizen, who up until a few months ago, she was homeless and living in the woods with her three service dogs. “It was tough,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez and her seeing-eye dogs braved the elements while living in a tent.

The scene was unsafe. Food was scarce and support was non-existent. Her only family in Charlotte, sister Elena, was a heart patient in medical care.

“I had nowhere to go,” Gonzalez said. “I needed to get help for myself and my sister.” Hope was dwindling until CMPD Officer Kathleen Caffray, from police Animal Control, stopped by. “I made it my mission to get her out of the woods,” Caffray said. “As a blind, disabled woman I knew it was going to be very hard as it would be for anybody but especially her and her three dogs.” “They wanted me off these streets quickly,” Gonzalez said.

Officer Caffray followed her heart and went to work, creating a network of helpers that included Urban Ministries and Steele Creek Church.

The team brought Gonzalez and her dogs food, toiletries, offered animal care, and more.

The next goal was to find her housing.

“What people don’t know is it took them nine months,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said that if it wasn’t for Caffray and the police department, she would be facing a very different reality.

Caffray found Gonzalez a home on a tree-lined street in Charlotte.

“We got a U-Haul and got all her stuff moved over here,” Caffray said. “I transported her dogs with the Animal Control van and we got her settled in. She’s doing much better than she was in the woods.” Through nine long months of hard work and grit, Caffrey built a stairway to Heaven for the Gonzalez family. “It makes me feel great,” Caffray said. “I’ve never actually accomplished something this big on the job. Now that I know that I can do it, I am excited to do it more for other people.”

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Coco The Therapy Dog

    Emergencies and tragedies can have a deep emotional effect on the first responders who do their best to provide help. “Most people don’t understand the wear and tear that the responders see on a daily basis. It does build up on them and can cause issues,” said Patrick Brandt, director of Delaware County Emergency Communications. […]

    Read more

    Seizure Alert Dog

    One girl’s journey to get a service dog ends on a happy note. Addi Lewis, 7, lives with epilepsy. As we reported in November 2019, the Tri-Cities community rallied behind her with fundraising efforts. It costs $20,000 to get a medical alert dog. Generous community donations of roughly $10,000, a $2,500 grant and a $15,000 […]

    Read more

    Four-Legged Friends On Campus

    A yellow English Labrador is among the newest members of the Loras College campus community this fall. Toksi, a service dog in training, goes to class with sophomore Ciera Hansen to help her classmates adjust to seeing service animals at the school. That will come in handy as students start to take on an active […]

    Read more

    Stolen Puppy In Denver

    Police are looking for two teens who might have been involved.Meredith) — A couple in Denver is asking for the public’s help to find their dog after they say he was stolen at gunpoint. Loki was the perfect addition for Shawn Rozinski and his girlfriend. “He’s high energy, he’s very lovable, like he just loves […]

    Read more

    PTSD Service Dogs

    esearch has shown that support dogs can speed up recovery from PTSD. Yet the cost of purchasing a service animal can be out of reach for many veterans. KMOX News discovered one local group that provides support dogs at no charge. Nicole Lanahan sits on a chair and pretends to sob. “Recon,” a German Shepherd […]

    Read more

    ESA Boogs Helps Staff

    A Delaware Valley dog has joined his owner on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing joy and hope to vulnerable adults sheltering from exposure to the virus. For the past several weeks, Boogs, a black and white Shih Tzu, has been visiting residents of Divine Providence Village (DPV), an intermediate care facility (ICF) […]

    Read more