Throughout history, humans have kept pets for a variety of reasons. Pets are loyal and non-judgemental. They can also provide a deep level of comfort, companionship and protection. For these reasons, it is not uncommon for individuals experiencing homelessness to also have pets, like dogs or cats. The National Law center on Homelessness & Poverty estimates that there are approximately 3.5 million people experience homelessness annually, and of that, roughly 3-5% have pets with them, but this data can vary by community.
Despite many common misconceptions, for those experiencing homelessness, there are many benefits to pet ownership. For many pet owners sleeping and living on the streets, their animals help to protect them from physical harm, theft, or any other danger they may encounter. Taking care of pets can also instill and reinforce a purpose for living, and striving for a better life. Often times, the need for companionship and a sense of purpose is almost just as important theneed for adequate food and shelter.
In addition, caring for a dependent animal on a regular basis can give individuals experiencing homelessness a very real sense of normalcy. Developing and maintaining habits relative to caregiving can be incredibly helpful when assisting these individuals in their transition to permanent housing. As most can imagine, caring for an animal while also attempting to protect, feed and clothe yourself, can be a real challenge. In fact, it is not uncommon for individuals to give up their own food so that their pet can have something to eat. Many times, individuals will even forego their own personal safety and well-being for fear of being separated from their pet.
It is for all these reasons and more that JOIN seeks to help not just homeless individuals, but their loving pets as well. If you’re interested in donating pet food, or other pet supplies, please visit our list of needs and donate today.