Should homeless people have pets?

 

Homeless with pets

When you walk past somebody who is living on the street alongside a companion animal, you may not be able to stop yourself thinking “why do they own a pet when they can barely look after themselves?”. Many people worry about if the animal is getting proper care, food and treatment. These are often the challenges for people living rough, but pet ownership for homeless people also provides a world of benefits.

Number one is that a pet provides constant companionship. When you live by yourself on the streets, your pet becomes your best, and sometimes only friend.

Pets do not judge. As long as you love and care for them, a pet will always be happy and by your side.

Pets provide a sense of responsibility and purpose. When your life starts to lose direction, these small things can bring routine and move the day along.

Animal companions make powerful contributions to the physical and emotional wellbeing of homeless people. During hard times when homeless people have little else, a pet is a sustaining symbol of hope.

However, we know the difficulties of finding shelters and long-term accommodation that allow pets to stay with their owners. In fact, many homeless people choose to continue living on the streets if it means they get to stay with their four-legged friends. Homeless people and the pets they keep have an unshakeable bond, and it can cause separation anxiety to be away from them, even when sleeping. This stops a lot of vulnerable Australians seeking help and even medical treatment for fear of being taken away from their pet.

Another difficulty is accessing food and veterinary services for pets. Homeless people will often go without to ensure that their pet eats first and gets necessary treatment. However, there are many amazing programs such as the RSPCA’s “Living Ruff”, Pets in the Park and Project HoPe (Homeless Pets) that make these services accessible to those who need a helping hand.

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2 comments

  1. I’ve seen first hand the difference that pets make to the lives of homeless people, both from walking around Sydney & most recently through volunteering with Pets In The Park (thanks for mentioning us!)
    Many of the people I’ve spoken to have said that having a pet has gotten them off drugs, stopped them drinking alcohol, kept them away from criminal behaviours, & stopped them from killing themselves.
    And pretty much all of them will make sure that their pet/s are fed before they get anything for themselves, they also want to make sure their pet is washed, wormed, doesn’t have fleas….. I wish pet owners who aren’t homeless would look after their pets as well as the people I’ve seen at Pets In The Park!!!

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    1. Well said Amy! Pets provide so much more than companionship, they do wonders for the physical and mental wellbeing of any individual. There is so much love between people who are homeless and the pets they keep, it definitely makes you think twice about pet ownership in our society. It’s wonderful that you are volunteering with Pets In The Park! They are an amazing organisation, we couldn’t help but mention them! KW

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