living ruff

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.

App to Help the Homeless

Many people don’t realise that most people who are homeless have mobile phones. In fact, 95% of them do and 77% own smartphones with Wi-Fi access. This means the revolutionary app by Infoxchange has the potential to be life-changing for those without a home. The “Homeless Assist” project is developing a new mobile app that helps homeless people and those at risk of experiencing homelessness find food, shelter and other support services.

Recent statistics from a study on homelessness and mobile phone usage conducted by the University of Sydney and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) found that mobile phone ownership by the homeless in Australia was even higher than the general population at 92 per cent. It also found that 67 per cent of homeless Australians use social media, and 69 per cent use phones to “access online information”.

It can be hard for the homeless to find their way around the service system with 1,200 specialist homelessness services available and over  300,000 health, welfare and support services around. Among these services, there are a small slice that welcome both homeless people and their pets. Making these services known to people who are experiencing homelessness with their pets will create more opportunities to break the cycle and receive support, for both owner and pet.

The app is a revolutionary idea, with the potential to improve the lives of 100,000 Australians and increase access to support services. This is especially so when you consider the specific requirements of people who are homeless and own animals. This would be an amazing step in the right direction to support the bond between homeless people and their pets. Hopefully, Infoxchange will recognise this opportunity and take the leap. It will also allow people working within the sector to help their clients while out and about.

The app has made Infoxchange one of the 10 finalists in the 2014 Australian Google Impact Challenge, which lets Australian non-profits harness technology to address social problems.

Infoxchange is placing valuable information into the hands of the homeless. It’s an innovative idea that can really impact homelessness and quality of life. And again, an amazing opportunity to share the information about shelters and services that welcome the homeless and their pets.

The Google Impact Challenge finalists can be viewed and voted for here.

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.

The Kennel Project & Jewish House

Long-term kennel structure at Jewish House

Long-term kennel structure at Jewish House

Old kennel facilities to be replaced

Old kennel facilities to be replaced

Jewish House is currently building long-term kennels to provide for the beloved pets of people undergoing crisis. Jewish House is an amazing organisation that provides 24/7 crisis support and services to those who need it. They help a range of people, and luckily, this extends to animals as well. This great news means that struggling Australians have a place to stay and get back on their feet, without having to leave their best friends behind! Jewish House also work alongside Project HoPe (Homeless Pets) with a vet to care for the pets that come in.

 How can you help?

Sponsor the construction of the kennels by donating here and attaching a message for ‘The Kennel Project’ as well as any personal notes – we’d love to hear your thoughts! Every little contribution makes a difference. We will also be adding in a plaque to thank those who choose to donate $300 or more, which will be placed above the kennels. Any bits and pieces like matting, toys and blankets to add to the kennels to make life more comfortable for the dogs will also be greatly appreciated.  Any excess funds that we may be lucky enough to have will go towards ongoing costs of providing for the animals that come in, including food and veterinary services with Project HoPe. Email us at petsofthehomelesssyd@gmail.com to get in touch or feel free to stop by our Facebook page to talk. We can’t wait to hear from you.

This is a truly exciting initiative, as we know there aren’t many shelters that welcome pets, let alone provide for them! Your support will allow vulnerable Australians, including those who are homeless, keep the strong bond between them and their pets, ensuring that they are provided a constant sense of comfort and familiarity as they get back on their feet.

Kennel Construction

Kennels under construction

Jewish House backyard under construction

Jewish House backyard under construction

About The Kennel Project

The Kennel Project is our way to help more shelters and crisis accommodation support vulnerable Australians and the pets they keep. Few shelters open their doors to animals, and the ones that do still need a little help to make every pet’s stay comfortable.

Get in contact with us at petsofthehomelesssyd@gmail.com or chat to us on our Facebook page to keep updated with the progress!

If you are a shelter or know of a shelter that is looking to open their doors to animals, we would love to hear from you. We want The Kennel Project to spread and help more places support the bond between owner and pet.

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.