pets in the park

How to help homeless people with pets

Helping the Homeless

 

Have you ever come across homeless people with their pets and wanted to help, but didn’t know exactly what to do? Here are some options to lend a helping hand for those in the community and support the pets by their side.

  • Start off by saying hello. A homeless person is just like anybody else you would meet, so treat them the same. Ask to pat their animal and get to know them. It is likely that they will enjoy the conversation, especially if it is about their beloved companions.
  • Pet food, bottled water and bowls are ideal to offer to people who are homeless with pets. If you want to help on an ongoing basis, it may be useful to keep a good supply of these in resources in your car, along with some towels or blankets so the pet can lay somewhere comfortably.
  • Build trust with the person and let them know that you have some food and water that you’d like to give their pet. This will allow them to see that you are open, friendly, and want the best for their animal companion.
  • Ask them if there is anything they need in particular. Perhaps there are long-term resources that they want for their pet like a jacket. Or maybe the need is much larger, like the requirement for medical service. Either way, this will make you aware of the biggest needs and perhaps give you something to think about to help on a wider scale.
  • Let them know of nearby veterinary care services in the community, especially those that are free, such as the RSPCA’s Living Ruff Program and Pets in the Park.

Of course, these tips are focused on helping the animal. Your kindness is not limited to this, and providing for the homeless person is also encouraged. However, animals depend on people, in any relationship and situation. These are some ways that you can play your part and help the vulnerable people in the community take care of their loyal companions.

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Top 3 Portraits of Homeless People and their Pets

It can be heartbreaking to see homeless people struggling on the streets, and even more so when they have four-legged friends by their side. However, there is also something to be seen in the power of the bond between homeless people and the pets they keep. Projects in Australia and all throughout the world have captured the beauty of this relationship in a series of touching portraits. Here are some great ones:

1. LifeLines by Norah Levine

Norah Levine, photographer and animal-lover from Austin, TX, honours the relationship between people who are homeless with pets through amazing photographs and interviews.

“I wanted to capture the universal bond that exists between people and their pets and to illustrate that this shared bond is universal; it isn’t based on finances or home-ownership. The vast majority of pets I encountered during this project were treated with love and respect, both physically and emotionally and the relationship was mutually beneficial and positive.”

Photo credit: Norah Levine

Photo credit: Norah Levine

Photo credit: Norah Levine

Photo credit: Norah Levine

2. Love is the Colour: Portraits from Pets in the Park

This series of black and white portraits taken by Linda Warland portray the amazing bond between homeless owner and pet. They are specifically the clients of a great organisation in Sydney called Pets in the Park. Pets in the Park work to provide veterinary services to struggling Australians with pets. The exhibition is being shown alongside more works donated by artists during the 5 -30 November at the Gallery Mercure.

Photo credit: Pets in the Park

Photo credit: Pets in the Park

Photo credit: Pets in the Park

Photo credit: Pets in the Park

3. My Dog is My Home

My Dog is My Home: The Experience of Human-Animal Homelessness is a truly beautiful exhibition for the National Museum of Animals & Society’s LA facility. The exhibition pays homage to the bond between humans and animals who are living on the streets. It is inspiring, empowering and the artwork comes in many forms.

Elephant Forget Me Not Exhibitition

Elephant Forget Me Not Exhibition

Dog, Cat, Mouse Exhibition

Dog, Cat, Mouse Exhibition

There is beauty in such a strong and unique bond, and it’s great to be able to celebrate homeless people with pets through art.

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.