In our lives, we’ve probably all witnessed a homeless person accompanied by their four-legged friend. But have we discussed the ethics that come into play when a homeless person owns a pet?
At first glance, you may feel sorry for the animal. Can the homeless person properly take care of the animal, and is it a beneficial situation for both parties?
You may even wonder how to help. However, when further considering all aspects that go into animal rights as well as human rights, owning pets as a homeless person is not only ethical but advantageous.
Just as much as food, shelter, and clothing, companionship should strongly be considered a human need. The homeless should be allowed forms of intimacy such as owning a pet simply because it prevents loneliness which will only further setback their livelihoods.
Having a pet can provide the owner with much-needed protection and comfort. Owning a pet can teach homeless people skills and positive feelings such as unconditional love, purpose, responsibility and will reduce their feelings of isolation.
In fact, since many shelters and organizations to help the homeless do not allow pets, you can be sure that those who are homeless and own pets love their company so much that they refuse to give them up, even to benefit themselves. Just because someone is homeless does not mean that they will not sacrifice to take care of their animal or that they will not be a good pet owner, just as owning a home for your pet does not automatically make you a good owner.
Five to ten percent of homeless people own a pet, and the rates in various areas of the country are even as high as twenty-five percent. As much as we appreciate our pets, our pets appreciate us right back. Pets have unconditional love for their owners, and it can be traumatizing and detrimental to the animal to be surrendered to a shelter by the only friend they’ve ever known.
If we force those who become homeless to give up their pets, we will further the burden on animal shelters that are already filled to capacity.
It is also important to understand the unbreakable bond and unconditional love between the homeless and their pets that can be damaging if broken. It is estimated that 7.6 million animals are surrendered to the shelter system every year. If we can keep animals out of the shelters and allow them to enjoy the company of someone who will love and provide for them, why wouldn’t we?
It is practically a staple of American culture to love and own animals, and those who truly love their four-legged companions always find ways to take care of them, but we can help too.
Help for homeless with pets can be spread in a variety of ways. Those who don’t discriminate against homeless people who choose to keep pets can help aide them instead.
Instead of offering money to the homeless, you could offer them a bag of animal food or some pet supplies. You could also donate to a pet-friendly homeless shelter or to organizations that benefit homeless dog owners themselves.
Pets of the Homeless, a national non-profit organization, is designed to help homeless people take care of their pets. They accept donation gifts, food drop-offs, and even volunteers to benefit the homeless.
By providing food, emergency healthcare, and supplies, we can all help make this situation a more positive and ethically beneficial situation for both parties.