One of the best parts of the day is when I return to my home after a long day’s work and Izzy is there to greet me. I think most dog owners/parents feel that way.
Now imagine that you are homeless and you have a dog (or two). Access to a homeless shelter and other social services is out of reach because you refuse to give up your dogs.
That’s the plight of many homeless Americans and the charity My Dog is My Home is working to help them by facilitating co-sheltering projects that allow both humans and pets to be supported.
The project did a series of YouTube videos to highlight the experience of human-animal homelessness. Here’s one of the videos: Spirit’s story alongside his dogs, Kyya and Miniaga, in Los Angeles.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand
The Lifelines Project, based in Austin, Texas, has a mission: it is to depict the bond between people and their pets by sharing images of the homeless with their animals. This is done through the lens of photographer Norah Levine.
Profits from the project (mainly through sale of prints) go to support 4PAWS (“For People and Animals Without Shelter”), a program run by the Animal Trustees of Austin. The program provides essential veterinary care to the homeless population – things like basic vaccinations, spaying and neutering. If a homeless person’s animal needs urgent surgery, the program aims to fund these needs as well.
The Lifelines Project helps to show that responsible dog owners are not limited to those with employment and a home. Many of the homeless portrayed in the project have a strong understanding of what their pet needs – and they are grateful for the financial support to make it happen.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand
I love true stories about how dogs bring people together. This one comes from Florida, where people at The Doglando Foundation have created the Full Tummy Project.
The Full Tummy Project sets up every Thursday evening at the Global Outreach Center in Bithlo, Florida (east of Orlando, home to DisneyWorld) to provide food and other essential supplies to homeless pet owners.
photo courtesy of Pets of the Homeless
The Center has traditionally provided meals for the poor and homeless (like most soup kitchens and homeless shelters), but the folks at the Doglando Foundation recognized that many homeless also own animals and the animals suffer from their poor living conditions and inability to pay for veterinary care.
“Between 5 to 10 percent of homeless people have dogs or cats, and in some [rural] areas of the country, it’s as high as 24 percent,” says Renee Lowry, executive director of Pets of the Homeless, a national organization that helps provide food, medical care and assistance to homeless people who need help caring for their animals.
People are homeless for many reasons; for example some have mental illness but others have lost their jobs in the enduring recession and have had mortgages foreclosed. The family, including the family pet, ends up on the streets.
So the Full Tummy Project is a soup kitchen for animals and there are currently over 150 families registered with the project.
The Orlando Weekly covered the stories of the people involved in the Full Tummy Project, so read the full story by clicking on the Orlando Weekly cover page above.