We All Need Somebody To Lean On
It been estimated that over ten percent of people who are homeless in Canada have dogs or cats. In many cases, the animals are a lifeline and reason for living for these people without a home, for people living in a stigmatized and marginalized environment.
Many people who are homeless say their dog is their best friend, maybe even their only friend, and their only family.
Like most people, it is not uncommon to turn to friends and family from time to time. We all need somebody to lean on. In this instance, understanding why helps put homelessness in perspective.
Purpose and Accountability –
For some, choosing to keep a pet can provide a sense of purpose and accountability. Keeping a pet healthy and safe allows people to focus on something other than themselves for part of the day, and this can feel empowering in an otherwise disempowering circumstance. Pet ownership takes great responsibility, and this is no different for those who are homeless. In fact it can be transformative for someone experiencing homelessness.
Homelessness can be a very isolating experience. Pet companionship is known to help people to feel happier and live longer, more rewarding lives. In some cases, a pet is the only source of love for someone who is sleeping on the street.
Mental Health Benefits –
Many people who are homeless struggle with their mental health. Pets have well-known therapeutic benefits, and a furry or feathered companion might be the only health-related assistance a homeless person is able to receive.
On average, a person who is homeless is robbed, attacked or assaulted at least once a year. Living on the street can be very dangerous and an animal can help someone protect themselves and their few possessions.
A Tough Decision –
One challenge for someone who is homeless is that many shelters do not accept pets or animals. It is often difficult to part with an animal who is such a close companion, which puts both of them out on the streets.