Pets of the Homeless, a non-profit based in Nevada, has created a map of resources. Founder Genevieve Frederick said owners typically have dogs, but the organization has also handled 240 cats, plus a bird and a pet pig.

She said she receives a lot of calls from California, and that Hertzberg’s bill is an important step.

“When I saw that come through, I was so happy,” she said. “This is something that I have been trying to advocate to homeless shelters across the country for years.”

Of course, there are challenges. Many residents are used to sleeping with their pets in their arms, and must adjust to putting them in crates near their bunks. Other shelter residents may have allergies, or anxiety around certain breeds of dogs.  In one case, Klasky-Gamer said, a client’s companion animal once bit a staffer, but they later learned the dog was severely ill and acting out in pain. The staff took the client to get the dog treated. The animal was so ill, he had to be euthanized.

And not all shelters are large enough to accommodate animals. “You have to build for that or plan for it, but it’s something that’s definitely needed,” said Christie Holderegger of Volunteers of America.

Still, advocates say the pros outweigh the cons.

“It’s absolutely changed my views and beliefs when it comes to homelessness,” said Gina Knepp, manager of Front Street Animal Shelter. It was powerful, she said, to see people settle into the shelter who had opted to stay unsheltered for years.

“The most poignant thing was looking at their hands and seeing light come back into their eyes.” she said. “There are real human beings underneath the sadness.”

The organization also offers dog training classes on Friday. The etiquette classes can help people find more permanent housing because well-behaved pets are more likely to be able to stay with their owners.

“It’s about both ends of the leash,” she said. “It’s about our entire community.”