It’s a surprising fact to many people, but those who work with the homeless community in the United States estimate that as many as ten percent of homeless people have pets. Some are critical of homeless people who have pets, and most of the homeless shelters in the United States do not allow people with pets to stay at the shelter.
There are places that are trying to help homeless people that do have pets. In the city of Seattle, the Union Gospel Mission operates a veterinary clinic that offers free care for pets of the homeless every other Saturday. The clinic is called the Doney Clinic, and it is named in honor of a veterinarian who worked to help those in the homeless community.
The clinic sees a variety of animals that include dogs, cats and rabbits. Ailments seen at the clinic range from infections and lacerations to cancer and dental problems. The clinic’s only requirement is that pets are spayed or neutered after the first visit at the clinic.
Social workers in the Seattle area state that the homeless people’s pets are usually better cared for than the homeless people themselves. Most will go out of their way to get treatment for their pets while they will ignore health problems in their own bodies.
While some feel that the homeless can’t take proper care of pets, social workers and veterinarians find that the pets of the homeless are often very well looked after. The pets off have fewer anxiety and behavioral issues, and they have lower levels of obesity.
Most homeless shelters do not accept pets, but that is changing. There are shelters in the Los Angeles area that have begun to accept pets. There are also several organizations such as Pets of the Homeless that work across the United States to help get veterinary care to pets, and they help distribute pet food and supplies to pets who live with homeless individuals.