This image perfectly captures the bond between a homeless person and his pet. How many times have you walked by a homeless person with a dog or cat on the street to express sympathy for the animal and not the person?
Many critics say homeless people can’t care for pets. How can they care for a pet when they can’t care for themselves? This viewpoint is so ingrained in our society that sometimes the pets are taken from their owners in the middle of the night. Local authorities regularly sweep homeless camps or question homeless people and request proof of ownership of their animals.
“The homeless have become a serious problem of abuse and contributing to pet overpopulation,” Jennifer Pryor, head of an Encino animal rescue group, said in an email to Brenda Barnette, chief of the Los Angeles Animal Services Department.
Homeless people get dogs for protection, but the majority are companions to those who are living on the streets or in a car. Imagine being shunned by many, ignored by almost everyone, and living a life of piercing loneliness. Pets help ease the feeling of emptiness and provide a therapeutic service to these people in need.
According to a new study, homeless youth who have pets depression level is lower than those who are completely alone. Lead author Michelle Lem of the study says the findings should be a wake-up call to social services and accepting pets in their facilities.
“These pets are their only friends, the only way that they've experienced unconditional love without judgment.” - Michelle Lem, Director of Community Veterinary Outreach.
What is a homeless person in need and companionship to do? Many shelters won’t accept someone who has a pet. Animal Aid Network and Dude’s Ranch Rescue is here to help those looking for a solution. Asking someone who is in a rough spot in life to get rid of their most faithful companion is not going to help lead them out of their current position. Pets are part of the therapeutic process for many people working towards changing their lives around.