Resources for Pet Owners Experiencing Homelessness

We Know Your Pet is Important to You

Many factors can make a person a good pet owner but having money and a big home are not on the list. In fact, the number of homeless people who have pets is amazing, and even more amazing is the sense of happiness and content these pets have with their loving owners. Here is an overview of this sad situation where homeless people still try their best to keep their pet and provide them with a loving and caring environment.

Overview

With so much of the population homeless today and the numbers increasing each year, we’re all looking for ways to help homeless people with pets, make their lives a little easier and help them to keep their pets with them regardless of their financial situation or living arrangements. Here are some resources or organizations that might be helpful for homeless pet owners.

  • Pets of the Homeless
  • Salvation Army
  • National Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Human Society
  • Safe-T-Shelters
  • Friends & Vets Helping Pets
  • Red Rover Safe Escape
  • Brown Dog Foundation
  • CareCredit

How Many Homeless People Have Pets?

Approximately 5% to 10% of the 5.8 million American homeless people in the U.S. have pets. While this percentage may seem like a low number, it accounts for a lot of the population.

In most of these cases, if not all, the pet owner was not always homeless and probably not homeless when the pet was acquired. Unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances can often force a devoted pet owner into having to relinquish their pet.

  • Illness
  • Shortage of pet-friendly housing
  • Lack of accessible or affordable vet care
  • Short-term emergencies
  • Poverty

Research on Homeless People With Pets

While we often think that homeless people seldom have pets because of not having a real home to provide for their pets, this is typically not the case. In fact, many people become homeless because they would prefer to be homeless with their pet than in a home without them.

Providing their pet with love and care often gives them a feeling of normalcy that they wouldn’t otherwise have under those circumstances. As long as the person is able to keep their pet well-fed, cared for, groomed and healthy, there is no reason why the two shouldn’t be allowed to stay together.

Many homeless state that their pet took care of them as much as they took care of the pet. Some even go so far as to say that their pets gave them a reason for living. These are the very reasons why it’s so important to provide the large number of homeless people every opportunity possible to keep their pets with them or provide them with temporary shelter.

Keeping Pets and People Together

Almost every person who becomes a pet owner believes that his or her home will be the pet’s forever home. Unfortunately, sometimes unforeseen circumstances arise and unexpected things just happen – things that prevent a pet owner from keeping its pet. Sometime, it’s temporary, and sometimes it’s permanently.

The ASPCA believes that pets and their owners should be together regardless of financial problems that may arise. They also believe that financial status does not play a part in making a person a loving pet owner or alter his capacity to love and care for an animal.

Many people feel bad about this problem but either don’t do anything about or don’t know what they can do to help this situation. The ASPCA offers some excellent ideas on how to help keep pets with their owners even if they are homeless.

Responsibilities of Shelters

Shelters and rescue groups can acknowledge the importance of keeping pets and families together and not discriminate against pet owners based on ethnicity, identification, race and financial circumstances. They should also make it as easy as possible for pet owners to reunite with their pets by waiving or reducing return to owner fees. Shelters may rely on these fees to help care for the animals, rehome them or euthanize them, these fees are often higher than the income they might lose by returning them to their original owners.

Community Programs Aimed at Pet Retention

Communities should have well-resourced programs in place that enable rescues, animal shelters law enforcement, veterinarians and policymakers to recognize situations where keeping pet owners and pets together is the best course of action. With effective collaboration between these agencies, we can reduce the number of animals left in shelters rather than returned to their owners.

Affordable and Accessible Veterinary Care

Lack of funds to provide good veterinary care is a big reason why many homeless people are forced to relinquish their pets and turn them over to shelters and rescue groups. In fact, a 2015 survey in Los Angeles indicated that the inability to access or pay for medical or sterilization services was the main reason pet owners had to give up their pets, especially in the case of homeless pet owners.

Pet-Friendly Housing

Prior to becoming homeless, people are often forced to relocate to a place that doesn’t allow pets. Many of these pet owners choose to be homeless rather than to give up their pets. This is more common with those who rent rather than own their homes. Policies and laws that ban certain breeds strictly by reputation or require debarking dogs or declawing cats need to be changed to make it easier for homeless pet owners to keep their pets without having to make expensive changes. These laws should be replaced with laws that support reasonable housing polices so pets and owners can stay together without jeopardizing the safety and interests of others.

Discrimination by Breed

Certain laws that allow insurance companies to deny coverage to homeowners who own certain breeds of dogs, as well as laws that categorize certain dog breeds as vicious or mean without seeing the actual dog need to be modified. The laws should be based on the dog rather than the breed.

Miscellaneous Laws With Negative Consequences

Many laws put in place to protect animals from harm often result in fines and penalties that in turn result in the pet owner giving up the pet because they cannot afford to pay the fines. Examples include animal control laws regarding sterilization, identification, licensing, leashing and rabies vaccinations. Policies should be made so that if these laws aren’t followed, the consequences aren’t so negative that they force separation between pet and owner.

Resources for Homeless Pet Owners

Pets of the Homeless

petsofthehomeless.org/

The only national organization dedicated to veterinary care and feeding of pets that belong to the homeless.

Everything to Me

everythingtome.org

Documentary project partnered with community outreach and clinical care outreach efforts with animals and their homeless owners in Seattle.

Humane Society

humanesociety.org/resources/are-you-having-trouble-affording-your-pet

Provides a comprehensive list of resources both on a national and state level to people who may not be able to afford their pet.

Red Rover

redrover.org

Provides assistance to victims of domestic violence seeking safety with their pets, animals with life-threatening illnesses and rescues from disaster or neglect.

 

SAFPAW

safpaw.org/

The Southern Alliance for People and Animal Welfare helps the homeless community face the daily challenges they experience living in poverty with their pets.

Financial Assistance

The Pet Fund

thepetfund.com

Provides financial assistance for non-emergency veterinary care, up to $500 per applicant, for non-routine, necessary treatments.

Assistance Dog United Campaign

assistancedogunitedcampaign.org/vouchers

Helps people with disabilities find funding to purchase service dogs.

Pet Guardian Angels of America

pgaa.com

Financial assistance program listings, as well as information to help people find the type of pet that matches their lifestyle.

Feed the Dog

feedthedog.org

Provides financial assistance to veterans for their service dog’s veterinary care and other related costs.

Waggle

waggle.org

Pet dedicated crowd funding that partners with veterinarians directly to help pets get the care they need.

Low Cost Spay/Neuter

Spay USA

Spayusa.org

This is a nationwide referral network for people interested in finding low cost spay and neuter services.

Neighborhood Cats

neighborhoodcats.org/resources/find-help/find-a-low-cost-spay-neuter-clinic

This website is a directory of cat spay and neuter clinics across the U.S.

Purrfect Pals

purrfectpals.org/spayneuter/

Purrfect Pals offers free spay and neuter certificates for cats and kittens.

PetsMart Charities

petsmartcharities.org/adopt-a-pet/spay-neuter

PetsMart is dedicated to preventing pet homelessness and is doing this through spay and neuter services nationwide.

Michelson Found Animals

foundanimals.org/spayneuter-affects-homeless-pets/

Resource from the Michelson Found Animals Foundation on the spay and neuter problem in Los Angeles.

Friends of Animals

friendsofanimals.org/program/spay-and-neuter-certificates/

Helps pet owners get low cost spay and neuter certificates for veterinary services in their area.

Assistance with Pet Food

Pets of the Homeless

petsofthehomeless.org/get-help/

Provides pet food and veterinary care to the homeless and less fortunate in local communities across the United States and Canada.

Banfield

banfield.com/banfield-foundation/resources

The Banfield Foundation provides information on nonprofit resources that will help pet owners in need.

Rescue Bank

rescuebank.org/recipient-guidelines/

Rescue Bank helps people who help animals by granting food to pre-qualified animal welfare nonprofits in the U.S.

Love Your Pet Expo

loveyourpetexpo.com/pages/petfoodhelp.html

Provides a growing list of programs on the national, regional and local levels that will help with pet food.

STARelief

starelief.org/pet-food-pantry-application/

Pet food pantry in Connecticut, their application is similar to others throughout the U.S.

Generation WAGS

generationwags.com/rethink-rescue/safety-nets-for-pet-owners/pet-food-banks-pet-pantries

Generation Wags has a comprehensive list of pet food pantries and pet food resources in every state.

Pet Owners Facing Foreclosure

Lost Our Home

lostourhome.org

Lost Our Home is a pet rescue that up to 90 days of pet care, including boarding, pet food, pet supplies and medical care.

Bank Foreclosure Sale

bankforeclosuressale.com/abandoned-foreclosure-pets.php

Abandoned Foreclosure Pets is an organization that provides resources for pet owners who have had their home foreclosed.

ASPCA

aspca.org/about-us/aspca-policy-and-position-statements/position-statement-keeping-pets-and-people-together

ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a New York-based non-for-profit humane society aimed at preventing cruelty to animals.

2nd Chance for Pets

2ndchance4pets.org/help.html

2nd Chance for Pets is an organization that tries to prevent pets from being euthanized because of the disability or death of their owners.

Foreclosure Pets

foreclosurepetswa.org/

Foreclosure Pets is a Washington-based non-profit organization that provides shelter and medical care to pew owners who have lost their homes due to hardship or foreclosure.

Transportation Resources

Pilots and Paws

pilotsnpaws.org

Pilots N Paws is a non-profit organization that acts as a meeting place for people to share information on sheltering, rescuing or adopting animals as well as assisting in transportation for these animals.

Operation Roger

operationroger.rescuegroups.org/

Operation Roger Truckers Pet Transport is a group of truckers that provide transportation for pets going to their new homes.

Best Friends Animal Society

resources.bestfriends.org/article/pet-transport-resources

Best Friends Animal Society is a large organization that provides shelter for homeless animals as well as sterilization, adoption and educational programs.

Wings of Rescue

wingsofrescue.org/

Wings of Rescue is an organization that takes animals about to be euthanized and provides air transportation to get them to their new homes.

SPCA International

spcai.org/programs/operation-military-pets.html

SPCA International (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is a global organization dedicated to promoting the safety and well-being of animals.

Dogs in Danger

​dogsindanger.com/transport.jsp

Dogs in Danger is a website that helps pet owners and pet lovers come together and find shelter and homes for animals in need.

Temporary Foster

Foster Dogs

fosterdogs.com/i-need-a-temporary-home-for-my-dog.html

Foster Dogs is a website that helps people find temporary homes for the pets while they go through difficult situations.

Pets for Patriots

​petsforpatriots.org/what-is-pet-fostering/

Pets for Patriots is an organization that assists U.S. military vets in adopting a pet while providing a shelter animal with a new home.

Pact for Animals

pactforanimals.org/military-foster-program/

PACT for Animals is an organization that helps military pet owners find temporary homes for their pets while they’re on active duty.

National Mill Dog Rescue

nmdr.org/our-dogs/foster/

National Mill Dog Rescue is an organization committed to rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming retired breeding dogs and educating the public about the cruelty in irresponsible breeding.

Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

ccpdt.org

This council provides an independent dog trainer certification and other useful information.

NASRN

nasrn.com/info/display?PageID=17601

National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network (NASRN) is an organization that helps find foster homes to provide temporary homes for dogs in need of rescuing.

Articles on Homelessness and Pets

End Homelessness

endhomelessness.org/pets-can-barrier-open-door-ending-individuals-homelessness/​

National Alliance to End Homelessness is an organization that helps homeless people find housing that allows them to keep their pets.

AVMA

avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/180901a.aspx

American Veterinary Medical Association is an organization that provides medical care to pets of homeless people or those who can’t afford veterinary care.

Time

time.com/5531055/california-homeless-pets/

This article offers information on a proposed bill that could provide help and assistance to homeless people and their pets in California.

Sage Pub

journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2466/pr0.1994.74.3.715

This article offers information on both the benefits and disadvantage of homeless people owning pets.

Washington Post

washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/01/23/the-surprising-argument-for-extending-food-stamps-to-pets/

This article is about the pros and cons of providing food stamps for pets.

ASPCA

aspca.org/blog/five-ways-help-local-homeless-animals-when-adoption-not-option

This division of ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) helps provide shelter for animals when adoption is not an option.

Huffington Post

huffpost.com/entry/dont-leave-fido-behind-homelessness-impacts-women_b_593b20d8e4b094fa859f1861

This article offers information on homeless veterans and the difficulty they may have keeping their pets and providing good care for them.

T and F Online

tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/089279304785643230

This article offers information on homeless people who own pets as well as the public’s opinion on these issues.

University of Washington

washington.edu/news/2017/06/16/what-the-bond-between-homeless-people-and-their-pets-demonstrates-about-compassion/

This article is about the bond between homeless people and their pet as well as the public’s feelings on homeless people and pet ownership.