Helping To Care For Pets Of The Homeless

Homeless Dog

There are numerous programs to help the homeless on the streets, but what about the pets of the homeless? Are there programs helping them to make sure they get meals everyday and are provided with adequate shelter?

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, about 750,000 people in the United States experienced homelessness on a given night. An estimated 322,050 of that number do not have covered shelter. About ten percent of the unshielded homeless have at least one dog or cat.

Not only do these pet owners have to find shelter for themselves, but they have to find a roof for their pet, which can be a challenge.

Many shelters do not have programs that allow pets or provide food for pets. Due to this, numerous homeless people stay out on the streets because there is no place that they can bring their cat or dog.

There is a national organization that is trying to help the pets of the homeless and provide them with services and food. Feeding the Pets of the Homeless was started in December 2006 with the intent to raise awareness of the need to help homeless pets.

The organization reaches out to veterinarians and pet retailers to join the program and collect pet food. Members then go to local food banks and shelters and distribute the pet food to those in need.

Genevieve Frederick, who is head of Feeding the Pets of the Homeless, said: “The response from the general public has been overwhelming. It has changed the way many people view the homeless. They want to contribute pet food for those less fortunate, and they contact me daily to ask where they can go or why there isn’t a location in their town.”

Source: El Paso Times

Photo: Tim Hulsizer

12 thoughts on “Helping To Care For Pets Of The Homeless

  1. While I support the efforts of this group to provide food for the pets, I also am concerned about the increasing frequency with which I see homeless people seemingly exploiting animals as a fundraising gimmick.

    I am not talking about people who HAD pets and then became homeless, but rather people who became homeless and then got pets — people who have obviously been on the street a long time, and subsequently acquire a puppy or a kitten, and use that animal as a ploy.

    I feel for the homeless because I know that even when they make the choice to stay on the street rather than go into a shelter, there are reasons for it (addiction, mental illness, or the conviction that the street is safer than the shelter).

    However, I do get angry when I see people acquiring animals after having become homeless, and then using their animals in a plea for money. The animals have no choice but to be homeless with them. It imperils the animals, and often these animals are sick, flea ridden, etc.

    What is good about this program is that it provides pet food, rather than money, and therefore does not encourage the exploitation of the animals.

    Please do not misunderstand: I am not saying ALL homeless people with animals are exploiting them. SOME became homeless along with their pets, and are trying to survive and do the best they can for their pet. I am speaking ONLY of those persons who figured out that a homeless pet, especially a puppy or kitten, makes a good fundraising ploy, and therefore acquire them deliberately for this purpose. I encountered such a person just a week ago.

    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  2. I applaud this effort and am sending a donation. I don’t know about homeless people exploiting animals. I just know that animals need to be fed.

  3. Stephani,
    While you may be right in your one encounter about teh homeless person, please remember several things (this post may piss off animal activists, but so what).

    1) animals are animals, not people. People need to come first, I feel. or we would outlaw eating animals, useing them for leather, etc. hopefully we can learn to treat them well while they are doing thier jobs, but they have jobs or become food. Animals that live with homeless could well be considered like “show” animals *if* what you saw was true.

    2) people who are homeless are often in need of the comfort of an animal. they are often unable to express love to others, especially human others, due to a variety of both social and psychological needs. animals help that. they provide love, companionship for people who are unable to obtain it elsewhere.

    3) teh animals in question are not harmed because of the homeless persons, even if they have fleas, if they don’t get 2 meals a day, etc. because these are usually dogs or cats or rats that are already homeless. they would be living on the street, in most cases.

    4) we know for a fact that animals help people with mental disorders, homelss or not. I put people first, even as i do hope things like this project do help animals who’s lives are not peechy keen.

    in our love for animals, sometimes if not often, we can put them before teh humans they serve and love. and that to me, is unacceptable in most cases where there is not obvious abuse.

  4. Tanya,

    Would you clarify your very last paragraph, please? The way I’m interpretting it is that humans are much higher on the totem pole than animals. But once is a blue moon it’s ok to put animals up higher on the pole….but only in cases of obvious abuse.

    Exactly what are you saying? That unless an animal has been abused he has no business being treated more compassionately than a human?

  5. Last time I looked, homo sapiens was an animal species.

    Anthropodenial (read the work of Frans De Waal) and animal-origin disgust (Paul Rozin) are terms coined to refer to many people’s aversion to their animalness. Humans’ perceived separateness from other animals is fostered in various ways: creationist cosmology, mind/body and nature/nurture dualisms, and human/animal language. Powerful ideologies and motives are attached to the idea of human distinctiveness…

  6. I thank you all for your comments. I am the founder and author of the “Feeding Pets of the Homeless” program. The subject is so emotionally charged. I love that people are talking and sharing viewpoints. It is the best way to bring to light the plight of the homeless and their pets. Most people view them as invisable in our society. Socially responsible veterinarians and pet businesses are stepping up to the plate. Whether you think it is right or wrong the pets still need our help. They did not choose to be on the streets or in the home of poverty.

  7. Genevieve, kudos to you for championing this program.

    Over on the Itchmo forums, we have a little thread going about financing veterinary care, especially options for those who don’t necessarily have the means.

    Over this past Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, there was a small fundraiser for Animals Homeward Bound at a little town north of here. It turns out that they run a fundraiser every year to support the town’s veterinary clinic which is known for its generous pro bono work for pet parents and also for wildlife. Coming across the generous folks supporting the fundraiser on Thanksgiving Weekend was very special.

  8. in our love for animals, sometimes if not often, we can put them before teh humans they serve and love. and that to me, is unacceptable in most cases where there is not obvious abuse.

    It doesn’t really take much clarifying, cuase it says what you think it says. Humans use animals. it is the way things are. as long as humans use animals, then there is not one “better” or “worse” use for them.

    to say that it’s wrong for a homeless person to have a pet because he might be begging with the pet, suggests then that it is also wrong for a person to train his pets to be “actors” and make money off them; and it’s wrong to breed them for money; and it’s wrong to show them for money; and its wrong to race them.

    My main point to Stephni, is that while she may have seen a homeless person begging, it’s hardly the “only” reason he or she had a pet.

    Homeless have pets for the same reasons we do. often, even for more desperte cases of need for companionship, safety, and love.

  9. I am @ my wit’s end i have taken in a homeless elderly dog Sprout almost 2 month’s sometime’s in the morning i help him get up so that he can go outside as he is not able to bend his back leg’s i am looking 4 amy infor that u can send me any place in which i am able to recive ANY HELP thank u

  10. so. i’m homeless. i live on the street with my partner and we have a dalmatian. i’m kind of offended that people would think homeless people get pets to make money. do you have any idea how much pets cost?
    i bought a 40 dollar coat for my dog yesterday because she was shivering. it took me three days to save up for it.
    she has good dog food, eats every day. i pay for it. she drinks water and i’m training her because she came from a terrible home where she was badly abused. our dog comes first. we spoil the crap out of her and we spend more money on her each day than ourselves.
    if you panhandle, with or without a dog, you get maybe ten dollars in a day if you’re lucky.
    the dog doesn’t make much of a difference, and what little it DOES make is hardly covered by the cost of providing.

    but Marilyn (our dog) gives us other things. things we need. she loves us, no matter if we have money or showers or clean clothes. she loves us and she’s all we have, all we can trust. you can’t trust other street people and everyone else treats you like trash.

    Marilyn is sweet and everything in the world to us. she makes us smile even when we’ve had a terrible day, which happens a lot. she’s also protective and keeps away people who may try to harm us, and in turn we give her the best life we possibly can provide for her.

    she is certainly amazing and you know, maybe you should stop and wonder WHY homeless people sleep in the dirt and rain and cold outside just to be with their pets, rather than a warm shelter bed with free food.

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