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Homeless People and Their Pets

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure where to put this. It's too serious for the Cat Lounge, but it's not really Breaking Mews either.

I was downtown L.A. today and I saw a woman about 30ish, sitting on the sidewalk, begging. At first I was going to walk by, but she had a small cat carrier with filthy wadded up paper in it. I bent over to peek inside and sure enough, I could just see a small grey and white cat or half-grown kitten crouching in the back of the carrier.

I felt worse for the cat than for the woman. I put $1 in her cup (she smelled awful). Later I was sorry I didn't offer to buy the cat, carrier and all, even though I've promised myself not to bring anymore cats or kittens inside.

What do you think of homeless people having pets? I've seen others with dogs, cats and birds before. It's good for them to have companionship, but do they really take care of them? I always seem to worry more about the cats than about the dogs. Are there shelters that will accept the pets?
post #2 of 22
Well from my experience, every homeless person with pets I've encountered have taken GREAT care of their pets. Their pets get food, shelter and everything first. The animals are clean (or clean as they can be) and you could tell they're happy. From the ones I've seen at least, as long as the animals are taken care of I don't see the problem.

And I haven't run across a shelter that takes pets. There is a rescue type that will take in pets of abused women and children till they're back on their feet though. Because there are women who will not leave an abusive relationship because they'll have to leave their animals behind and know the animal will be hurt if they leave without it.
post #3 of 22
I've seen this many times too.
Most of the time they take great care of the animal. I can't say that they're vetted because they don't have the means but as far as food, shelter and love, they do get that.
More often then not, I see them with dogs. Never with cats

I don't think it's right that a cat has to live it's life in a carrier though
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
I think the cats not being able to move about freely is why they always seem much sadder to me. I once saw a cat try to jump out of the homeless person's shopping cart only to end up hanging by its collar. The woman rescued it quick enough, but it left me concerned.

If the people don't have shelter, how can be pets have shelter?

I was once homeless myself, and I lived in a shelter for 11 months while I waited for Section 8 (subsidized) housing. I almost got evicted because I bought a little aquatic type of frog. One woman had left her cats behind when she escaped an abusive relationship because she couldn't find a shelter that would accept them.

That's why I wondered if any shelters in other areas accepted pets. Where do they keep their pets when they are sleeping outside?
post #5 of 22
Hmmm...you bring up an interesting concept and perhaps one you might want to look into raising money for and such.

It's probably one of the several reasons why many homeless do not even bother with shelters. My only concern would be that two animals (dog & cat for example) that didn't get along and started fighting would cause more stress to an already stressful situation.
post #6 of 22
This was something I was always concerned about until I saw a report on television about homeless people and their pets in the city I work in. According to the vets interviewed, the pets (primarily dogs) do get vetted, and are well-nourished. The homeless people depend on them for companionship, protection, and even physical warmth, so normally the pets are very well taken care of. They're also constantly with their humans, and have contact with other dogs. It's not a bad life for a dog, but I imagine it would be too stressful for a cat.

The shelters in the a.m. city don't allow pets, so the city allows homeless people and their pets to sleep in a heated, lighted underground shopping center at night, with a police station right in the middle of it.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
I don't know of any situation resembling that here. Of course, L.A. is usually not that cold and it doesn't rain enough, so it is different.

For the dogs I think it probably can be a pretty good life. I read a short novel about a dog and his homeless companion called Timbuktu, written from the dog's viewpoint. He had a good life until his human died.

For cats, though, I guess I just can't see it. Why does life have to be so hard?
post #8 of 22
Since Hurricane Katrina, there has been more focus on people's relationships with their pets. There are efforts to help get abuse victims out with their pets because otherwise, they stay and endanger themselves.

Sheltering Women -- And Their Pets, Too


Quigley House: A shelter for Abused Women and Pets
post #9 of 22
The only ones i've seen have had dogs and their well looked after and stick my their masters. Theres one in particular that i see often where people actually give him bags of dog food and the dog wears a bandana and lies on a blanket by his masters side.

I don't like the idea of a cat being confined to a cat carrier for goodness knows how many hours though
post #10 of 22
There is a homeless man and his gignantic dog that I often see in the East Hollywood area. They often hang out in a drug store parking lot. You can see that the dog is well fed, well loved and happy, and I honestly think his human would die without him. You can just see the love they share for each other. I actually admire a person who will NOT give up their pet, because they are homeless. I guess I feel some of these homeless people deserve at the very least to have the love and companionship of an animal. For most of them, that's all they have. That being said, I do think it would be harder on a cat than on a dog, but NOT impossible. It may not be the best life for the cat, but hopefully it's only temporary. A homeless person could get a leash and allow their cat some walking room outside of the cage, they might even have a car where the cat can roam around in the car at night or on cool days.

I know this is an animal site, but I sadly I see only concern for the animal's and not the humans. No one worries about the homeless person, out their on their own in the dangerous elements of the city, only the animal for not having the optimum livestyle at that time. It's like forget the human. We could care less about a 30 yr old woman stuck out there, however, we ARE concerned about her cat. That is truly sad, I think. God knows I am much more of an animal person that a people person, but jeez, I can empathize with that poor girl. She loves her cat, and is willing to give up sleeping in a nice bed at night, so she can keep her cat with her. That woman is in great danger. Maybe the only thing that keeps her going is her cat. Her cat is only homeless in a sense, because her human doesn't have a home right now, but I still wouldn't consider the cat homeless or uncared for. Maybe the poor cat does have to spend a lot of hours in a carrier, but that's better than being on her own in the elements. The cat is fed and loved, and to be honest, no one knows for sure if the cat is stuck in the carrier 24/7. The owner may have a way to let her out at times.

If I became homeless, I wouldn't want to give up my cats. I realize I could roam around the streets of Los Angeles with them, but I'd do my best to keep them all. I'd turn to the people I know and I'd ask if the cats could stay with them, until I got back on my feet. If I HAD no one to turn to, then I might HAVE no choice but to try to rehome the two of them who accept other people. However, 2 of my cats, Simba and Shane do not accept strangers or outsiders at all. So, they would probably go with me, on the mean streets of Los Angeles. I'd have to see if someone would watch them for me while I applied for jobs, but I would NEVER give them up. Never.
post #11 of 22
I see them anytime I go to Toronto...personally I don't think its right. Any dogs I have seen with a homeless person looks mangey, miserable and malnourished. I feel terrible for the poor things
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by HopeHacker View Post
I know this is an animal site, but I sadly I see only concern for the animal's and not the humans. No one worries about the homeless person, out their on their own in the dangerous elements of the city .
But for a majority of those people that's their choice to be living how they are?.

Just this afternoon i was talking to my nextdoor neighbours father who volunteers for CRISIS an organisation for the homeless. http://www.crisis.org.uk/.

I asked why can't they find these people somewhere to live so they could get their benefits etc..but he said most of them don't want the hassle that can come with it such a bills, working etc.. so the easy option is to live on the streets.

Until today i didn't realise that this organisation has classes to help them get back to leading a normal life. They have courses on computer skills, numeracy classes, languages and lots more, and they even have someone come in 3 days a week from the job centre to arrange interviews for them, and all this is free.

The sad thing is they might stay in one of these classes for 3 days then give up, then they just come in every day for a coffee
post #13 of 22
We've had to rescue 3 dogs from two different homeless men in the past month at the shelter where i work They did NOT take care of them- they were skin and bones, none of them had proper vaccines, none of them had ever been to a vet or properly socialized....bad, bad situations. In my opinion- if you can't afford to put a roof over your head, and provide adequate shelter for yourself- you have no business having a pet. Being a responsible owner means being able to provide adequate vet care for your pet- including routine vaccinations, testing, proper prevention, adequate shelter, food, and water. This also means being able to afford emergency vet care should the situation arise. None of the people in the past month that we've confiscated animals from could do that.

And none of the other ones since i've been working at that shelter period who we have taken animals from have ever met those needs. Most of the time the animals were in bad shape,never been vaccinated, and had heart worms/etc.

It takes a good person to realize when they can no longer provide a good home for their pet- and then at that point they have the responsibility to find a good place to rehome their animal if they can not adequately care for them.

I do not think the majority of homeless people need pets. Working for animal control- and having to deal with the result of homeless people not providing adequate care on all levels for the animals in their care proves my point.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarryEyedTiGeR View Post
We've had to rescue 3 dogs from two different homeless men in the past month at the shelter where i work They did NOT take care of them- they were skin and bones, none of them had proper vaccines, none of them had ever been to a vet or properly socialized....bad, bad situations.
That's true of the people too-- they aren't taken care of, don't have health care, etc. The homeless person isn't neglecting the animal out of carelessness the way a lot of people with real resources do.

Of course the ideal situation is for all people and animals to have nice warm homes and plenty of healthy food, but it isn't the case.

IMO, especially if an animal is likely to be put down and especially if the dog/cat/etc stays with the person of their own free will (and not being chained/leashed to them) I don't consider it to be any more of a problem than all the other homeless pets that aren't lucky enough to have human companionship. It isn't a good thing, but I can't much fault two homeless, cast-aside beings for befriending each other.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
It's hard for most of us to comprehend being homeless, much less accepting it as a way of life. When I was in the shelter, I learned a lot. Most of the people either had addiction problems, mental or physical health problems, or occasionally a person who had just got in financially over their heads. Some were young people who came to Los Angeles without the necessary financial resources to get through the settling in period.

I met one woman who had to leave behind her cats when she went to a shelter for abused women. From there, she came to shelter I was in. She felt so guilty about her cats, but she had to save her own life. She was one of the more competent people who had a job the whole time. Staying at the shelter gave her an opportunity to save money and to make a move to a financially safe life.

The woman I saw on the street probably had both mental and addiction problems. She was filthy and had open sores on her face. I don't know why I felt more for her cat, except that I know most addicted people don't give up their drugs easily. They will accept homelessness and all its dangers in order to continue to use.

Her little cat had no choice. My guess is that the cat was homeless when she found it. Maybe not, though, because she did have a carrier. I am praying for them both. Life's not easy for anyone.
post #16 of 22
When it comes to the homeless and their pets, how do you know that the pet was theirs to begin with, or whether is was two "strays" finding each other for companionship? Because isn't that what homeless people are...human strays? Sometimes we forget them, don't we.

And, I don't agree that most "prefer" to be homeless. Some do, I know, because life has gotten so complicated and it can get overwhelming, but there are a lot out there that didn't want to be in that position but ended up there because of circumstances. Some have mental problems, some don't want to deal with people, but that doesn't mean they can't love an animal.

And, honestly, I don't see any harm in the homeless having pets. They form a bond. Ok, so they don't see the vet every year, but at least they have love and food, and I will bet most of those animals eat before their human does. That's more than alot of owners do now.

Like HopeHacker said, there is no proof that cat was kept in the crate 24/7. If it was during the day, she may have been sleeping peacefully since most cats sleep through the day anyway.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by katie=^..^= View Post
Her little cat had no choice. My guess is that the cat was homeless when she found it. Maybe not, though, because she did have a carrier. I am praying for them both. Life's not easy for anyone.
Sending TCS prayers and vibes for that woman, and especially for the little cat. the fact that the cat was in a dirty cage, and obviously not confident and outgoing raises concerns over the quality of its life.
I met a wonderful girl in Santa Monica who had big orange tom, and they were homeless together. She was working & saving up for a place, but was waiting for an affordable home that would let her keep her cat The cat was given free vet care by a local vet; he wore a donated harness & was friendly, outgoing & happy; his mistress was clean & well-kept.
Sadly, that doesn't sound like your situation, however. It sounds like that poor lady can't care for herself adequately, let alone for the kitty. And both women/girls and cats seem to be at a much high risk for abuse, out on the streets, than do dogs and men
post #18 of 22
I can't stand seeing homeless people with pets. Pets are a luxury. The homeless need to focus their time and energy on getting themselves back on their feet.
post #19 of 22
Everyone is making good points. All I wanted to add is, to many homeless people, that cat or dog isn't a pet. To far too many, it is the only friend that they have. They can go for unimaginable lengths of time where each other's face is the only friendly face that they see on the street.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
Everyone is making good points. All I wanted to add is, to many homeless people, that cat or dog isn't a pet. To far too many, it is the only friend that they have. They can go for unimaginable lengths of time where each other's face is the only friendly face that they see on the street.
I agree. And like Calico said, "When it comes to the homeless and their pets, how do you know that the pet was theirs to begin with, or whether is was two "strays" finding each other for companionship? Because isn't that what homeless people are...human strays? Sometimes we forget them, don't we."
The thing is, we don't know. We can't imagine what they go through every day. How can I judge a homeless person who has a scrappy looking dog without knowing? Everyone has that same basic need for love, or to be loved, no matter where we are or where we came from.
Maybe if you see the lady with the cat on a regular basis, bring some cat food or a sandwich or something?
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
Everyone is making good points. All I wanted to add is, to many homeless people, that cat or dog isn't a pet. To far too many, it is the only friend that they have. They can go for unimaginable lengths of time where each other's face is the only friendly face that they see on the street.
have to agree with mike.
post #22 of 22
I have only seen one homeless person with a pet (we don't have many homeless people around my area, at least not compaired to big cities). I would have to say his dog was very well taken care of and I actually saw him feed his dog a hamburger he was given. The man was very skinny, but his dog looked great.

In your case though, I think I would have wanted to take the kitten as well. Maybe that's what she wanted. To make money off of selling her kitty? You never know...
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