Pets of the Homeless Sydney

A pet-friendly society

Off-leash Dog Park

With one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, Australians are known to be animal-lovers. Almost two-thirds of Australian households have a pet and four out of five have owned one at some stage before. Things brings into question the people who are without a place to call home. What happens to their loyal companions? And what is being done to help support the bond they have with their beloved pets?

The benefits of pet ownership are far and wide and the local government would do well to support it. Not only have significant physical and psychological benefits from pet ownership been proven, but pets help to bring communities and people together.

Quite simply, they provide happiness, companionship, love and bestow a sense of pride and responsibility. These may seem like small features but are priceless to those who are homeless. It has been estimated the over $4 billion is saved each year from the national health bill, due to the physical and mental benefits that pets provided.

Around Sydney, the signs are rising to make the city a better place for dogs. This includes more off-leash areas, drinking bowls and more education programs for owners. Yet, there is still a long way to go to becoming a truly pet-friendly society. Policies are restrictive when it comes to allowing pets on public transport, apartments, retirement villages and sadly, homeless shelters or refuges. Unfortunately, these are some of the places where a pet’s presence is needed and appreciated the most.

An ideal future will see policies governing admission of animals into shelters, apartments and retirement villages, to name a few. The issue of homeless people and pets is also one to address.

This requires the support of government members, and all members of society can give voice to the issue by bringing it to their local MPs.

The bond between pet and owner is truly unique, and should be honoured in any situation.

The Blue House, Reuben & Wrecker

“I’ve had him since he was five weeks and he’s turning three this year. I didn’t know what to call him and then I found him chewing up everything so I called him Wrecker. He’s my best friend. He frets when I’m not around and I do too. Wherever I go I’ll take him with me, share my food with him, everything. He’s so placid and good with children.”

 

       Reuben and Wrecker   Reuben and Wrecker 2

This is Reuben and Wrecker. We had the pleasure of meeting Reuben and Wrecker at The Blue House in Parramatta. Reuben was once living rough on the streets along with Wrecker before The Blue House took them in and helped them get back on their feet. Community Medic took occupation of The Blue House and have transformed it into a safe place for homeless rough sleepers to find support. The Blue House is still working to build an official office, but their doors and services remain open nonetheless. It is a 24-hour information and services premises for people who are homeless. The homeless are welcome at any time to shower, wash and dry their clothes, get emergency bedding, accommodation and support in whatever way needed. Blue House even provides computers with internet access. The best part is that they welcome companion animals, meaning that absolutely everyone is welcome. The Blue House is an incredible place that helps rough sleepers transform their lives. The amazing sense of community often means the people who come through Blue House become family. Community Medic is now looking to open more premises around Australia. We encourage you to learn more about this great organisation at http://www.communitymedic.org.au/

Wrecker

 

 

Zorro & Jolie

“This is Zorro and Jolie. They’re mother and son. I won’t go anywhere without them.”

Zorro and Jolie

Zorro and Jolie

Zorro and Jolie adore their owner and it was amazing to see them interact and see their unique bond. Luckily for these two dogs, they have found a place to stay in housing commission accommodation. However, it’s not easy to find and many still struggle out on the streets with their animal companions.

Sam & Ty

“I’ve had Ty since he was 2 weeks old and he’s 2 years now. I got him from the pound. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to enter a shelter or home but none of them will take in Ty as well, so I said no. Wherever I go, he goes.”

Sam and Tye

Sam and Tye

We came across Sam and Ty outside Woolworths in Town Hall. Sam has nothing but love and care for his dog and would rather stay out on the streets than be separated from Ty – another example of the unique bond between pet and owner.

People and Pets in Times of Hardship

domestic-violence-help

Crisis can come in many forms. It can be financial or emotional, health or drug related, involve domestic violence and even natural disaster. However, comfort and sanctuary comes in many forms too, and for people in crisis, pets provide unconditional and unwavering support.

Pets are an important member of any family and the broader issue of finding refuge and shelter for both human and animal together effects much more than just the homelessness sector. There is a clear need to shift attitudes to honour the bond between pet and owner, regardless of the situation. The value of sustaining such a relationship is powerful – it provides security, therapeutic benefits and is a standing symbol of hope when all seems lost. And because of this, the importance of pets in times of hardship should never be underestimated.

Fortunately, there are few but still amazing organisations that make the effort to keep people and pets together. The Pets in Peril program by Animal Aid in Victoria to assist families experiencing domestic violence. In an ideal world, refuges would accommodate for the entire family (animals included), but sadly this is not always possible and Pets in Peril has been decided to care for beloved animal companions. Similarly, Safe Beds for Pets by the RSPCA supports families in domestic violence situations. This means families can leave dangerous situations and take the time to make arrangements for the future without fearing for the safety of their pets.

The demand for these kind of outreach services is increasing and while it is reassuring to know that services exist, we are still on our way to create a systematic solution that provides for both animal and human.