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PETA Balks At SF Plan To Pay Panhandlers To Care For Shelter Puppies

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - A creative proposal to find homes for needy dogs is facing some strong opposition from an unlikely source, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Beginning in August, the city is set to offer panhandlers up to $75 a week to stop begging and foster problem puppies from city animal shelters until the pups are ready for adoption.

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The pilot program is called Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos, or WOOF. It's believed to be the first of its kind in the country. The program will pair ten dogs with people living in city housing, allowing the dogs to be socialized.

But PETA claims that the program would put the animals at risk. They issued a statement which read, in part:

"The city is in essence experimenting with the lives of homeless animals and people. Many chronic panhandlers battle with addiction and mental health issues; dogs won't be able to tell us if they were harshly scolded, randomly screamed at, smacked, scruffed, locked in a bathroom or closet, or otherwise mistreated."

The animal rights organization has even offered to cut a check to the city in the amount of $10,000 to put an end to the pilot program. The amount is equal to the grant which is funding WOOF.

City officials said they will not entertain PETA's offer, and plan to move ahead with WOOF.

"I think there is a tremendous amount of compassion and humanity on the part of individuals that are homeless and I am disappointed that PETA can't tap into that humanity," said Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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