By Jennifer McGraw

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A sad story quickly turned into a happy tale for a local couple and their four-legged fur-child.

“Having to sleep in a car and wondering where we were going to stay and give up my dog,” said Robert Dykema who recently became homeless with his partner.

Robert said his 3-year-old rescue dog Meaty is his closest companion.

“He was the guy who forced me to ask for help,” Robert said while petting his pup. “I wouldn’t have asked for help myself.”

Even though he has a master’s degree, he couldn’t find steady work, couldn’t pay rent, and began living out of his car.

“I just felt so bad because I know it’s not good for Meaty,” he said.

Unable to afford dog food, Robert went to Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter to surrender his beloved pet whom he adopted from there last December.

“It was a horrible feeling. I was in tears,” he said.

But shelter director Gina Knepp had a different plan and turned to social media.

“We decided to do a video, and he was game, and here we are, poof, magic happened,” she said.

The video quickly had more than a half a million views and raised more than $5,000 to get them off the streets.

“First, last, security deposit, pet deposit, two months rent,” Knepp said.

Robert is inspired by the community’s support.

“It’s incredible; the feeling is overwhelming,” he said.

An animal shelter that normally finds homes for pets is now being credited with helping the animal’s owner.

“I can’t even articulate how good it feels to know that I hope to people and their dog get the house today and sleep in a bed and not be afraid,” Knepp said. “It doesn’t get any better than that in my opinion. It was a beautiful story, and I hope we can do it again.”

Robert said he’ll never forget the generosity that kept them all together.

“Thank god for the graciousness of our community,” he added. “Meaty has a home, and we stayed united through all this.”

Robert will be volunteering at the shelter and is working with the Front Street Animal Shelter to start up a foster program to help pets until their owners get back on their feet.

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