Many people are so quick to judge when they see a homeless person with a dog, but that kind of snap judgement negates the power and beauty of these relationships. Perhaps all we need is a change of perspective, and that’s what the organization Pets of the Homeless is trying to prove. It’s very easy to forget that the homeless population of animals in the United States is overwhelming; there is not enough room in shelters to care for each and every dog or cat that is on the streets. According to the ASPCA, it’s impossible to know just how many homeless animals there are in the US, but the estimate for cats alone is guessed to be 70 million. Many of these animals go hungry, have little to no companionship, suffer from health problems, and develop behavior problems to the point that they become aggressive toward humans. The homeless human population plays an interesting role in supporting homeless animals – these two groups offer each other a crucial sense of love, connectedness, importance, and responsibility.
Before you decide to judge a homeless person for being in possession of an animal companion, it might be worthwhile to ask if that animal would be better off with a loving, constant companion while living on the street, or to be taken to a shelter where odds fall in favor of that animal being euthanized. Pets of the Homeless realized that there was so much potential to create happy, healthy, and loving relationships between homeless people and homeless animals if just a little bit of help is provided. Acknowledging that 5%-10% of the American homeless population have pets, Pets for the Homeless decided to create programs that bring veterinary care to those on the street. These veterinarians provide vaccines, spay/neuter services, and other needed medical care. Pets for the Homeless also actively collects donations to provide food and crates for animals living on the streets. While it may not be as wonderful as curling up on a soft carpet in a big house, being able to eat and receive medical care makes a world of difference for these animals.
The video below shows some truly powerful moments between homeless people and their pets; it’s impossible not to see how much they mean to each other. Did this video change your opinion of homeless pet owners? Had you ever considered the situation from this standpoint before? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!