australian common ground alliance

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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Pet Friendly Shelters & Accommodation

Pet and Owner Bond

For many people without a home, pets provide constant support, love and companionship. Homeless people often have to choose between their pet and accommodation, with most preferring to live rough on the streets than go without their beloved companions. Luckily, there are some wonderful accommodation options that open their doors to not only the homeless, but their animals.

Jewish House

Jewish House is a NFP organisation in Bondi led by Rabbi Kastel to provide assistance to those in the community without a place to call home. They also provide kennels for the homeless with pets, so vulnerable Australians can get the help they need without having to choose between their animal companions. Not only do they provide accommodation for the vulnerable, but also offer case management services to support individuals and families to get back on their feet. Rabbi Kastel and Jewish House work amazingly hard to address the issue of homelessness in NSW. It’s wonderful to see a shelter recognise and support the bond between owner and pet, no matter what the circumstance.

Australian Common Ground Alliance

The Common Ground Project in Camperdown provides affordable, safe and permanent housing to those in the community suffering from chronic homelessness. With the help of The Mercy Foundation, the Common Ground community is “pet friendly”, allowing tenants to keep pets. In addition to this, the Wentworth Community Housing Project at Penrith also welcomes pets, offering subsidised accommodation for homeless men and women.

In addition to these accommodation options, there are program such as the RSPCA’s Living Ruff¬†Program¬†look after pets so people can access interim accommodation and look to finding a permanent home, before being reunited with their companions.

These are all wonderful organisation that support the bond between homeless people and their pets, it’s what we need to see more of! If there are any other crisis accommodation and shelters that welcome pets, we would love to hear about them. Feel free to email us at petsofthehomelesssydney@gmail.com or visit us on our Facebook page.