Homeless people, homeless pets

We often get asked about our pet policy as many homeless youth have pets, everything from rats and cats to dogs, and it is not surprising. Being homeless is often a lonely life and all people need companionship and something to love. Pets do not judge you if you smell or are dirty; they love you unconditionally. In turn, homeless youth love their pets unconditionally and will often give up things for themselves for their animals, surrendering food, blankets and shelter to care for their pets.

Not everyone agrees that homeless people should have pets, feeling that if someone can’t house or take care of themselves, they are incapable of taking care of animals. In some cases this can be true though the same can be said for those who have a house and ownsa pet; having a place to live doesn’t guarantee a person is a responsible pet owner. Many of our youth adopt stray pets that no one else wants and would be otherwise but left to fend for themselves.

We often get asked about our pet policy as many homeless youth have pets, everything from rats and cats to dogs, and it is not surprising. Being homeless is often a lonely life and all people need companionship and something to love. Pets do not judge you if you smell or are dirty; they love you unconditionally. In turn, homeless youth love their pets unconditionally and will often give up things for themselves for their animals, surrendering food, blankets and shelter to care for their pets.

Not everyone agrees that homeless people should have pets, feeling that if someone can’t house or take care of themselves, they are incapable of taking care of animals. In some cases this can be true though the same can be said for those who have a house and ownsa pet; having a place to live doesn’t guarantee a person is a responsible pet owner. Many of our youth adopt stray pets that no one else wants and would be otherwise but left to fend for themselves.

Organizations that serve the homeless help out by providing food, supplies and veterinary care. Covenant House often gets donated cat and dog food as well as supplies which we give to our youth.  Most shelters, including ours, cannot accommodate animals but our daily drop-in welcomes youth and their pets and we have a pet therapy component to our counselling.  We provide a cage for small creatures, carriers and a pet room for larger animals. Covenant House also encourages responsible care for pets; if we feel a youth is struggling to care for their animal, we will discuss with them the option of taking the animal to a shelter and help them to do so if necessary.

Homeless people and their pets illicit a lot of different opinions. 

What do you think when you walk by a homeless person with their pet?

A rat cage waiting for a visitor