Efficiency is the Cure for All Homelessness - Humans and Companion Animals
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FROM Samantha A. Mumola, AnimalBlawg
March 2018

If the government were to take the same taxpayer dollar that goes to homeless shelters, and instead put it toward combined human-and-animal-shelters, it could simultaneously mitigate both human and animal homelessness, while creating jobs for the homeless and saving stray animalsí lives.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, over 550,000 homeless humans are living in the United States on any given night. Of these people, as many as one in four are pet ownersMany homeless pet owners cannot enter homeless shelters due to restrictions against pets. In other words, these compassionate individuals are denied basic services because they refuse to abandon their dog on the streets.

Human homelessness is at its highest point in modern history. Without a place to live, it is exponentially harder to find a job and maintain a healthy life, let alone take care of a pet. However, these pets are a source of comfort, security, warmth, and normalcy to the homeless.

Before condemning all homeless humans from owning pets, consider the following: there are high rates of drug use and physical and mental health issues amongst those living without a home. In fact, scientific research is becoming increasingly supportiveof the link between pets and human health. As a result, when patients seek treatment for drug use and mental health issues, they are often paired with animals to experience what is known as pet therapy. Therapy pets are frequently used to teach drug abusers and mentally unstable individuals healthy emotions such as responsibility, love, compassion, relationship-building, trust, and mindfulness.

In addition to the homeless population of humans and their pets, there are about seventy million stray animalsliving in the United States, of which only about nine percent, or 6.5 million, per year enter into animal shelters. (Ironically, if that shelter happens to be a kill shelter, they would be better off living homeless; but, thatís for anotherAnimalBlawgpost. I digress.). These animal shelters exist in large part because of charitable donations and rarely see government funding.

So, if the large majority of homeless individuals donít have jobs, shelters donít have funding, and animals have the natural ability to help humans heal, then why arenít we housing and employing homeless humans in government-funded, no-kill animal adoption shelters?

If the government were to take the same taxpayer dollar that goes to homeless shelters, and instead put it toward combined human-and-animal-shelters, it could simultaneously mitigate both human and animal homelessness, while creating jobs for the homeless and saving stray animalsí lives. Homeless humans, their pets, and stray animals would all have a place to live. The humans could earn a living by running a legitimized (did I say no kill?) adoption shelter, earning enough to feed themselves and their pets (if any), while at the same time working to find homes for other stray animals. These often drug-addicted and/or mentally unstable humans would inevitably benefit from many of the healing qualities naturally offered by animals.

Further, there is no telling what additional sense of accomplishment and fulfillment these individuals will feel by finding homes for the stray. The humans help the animals while the animals help the humans; sounds like an efficient, self-sustaining plan to combat human and pet homelessness, donít you think?


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