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This question stems from a walk down town today. A gentleman who was panhandling and is clearly having a rough go right now also had a dog with him. I cant go so far as to say they were both homeless, but they could be, or at the least were definately in need of help. I gave him a bill and the dog a treat I had in my jacket pocket (as a dog owner I seem to always have treat in a pocket). This begs the question, what kind of life is this for a dog, and is it being well cared for? Should this guy have the dog rehomed and concentrate on just taking care of himself before trying to feed and care for a dog too. Or, the corollary is, this dog is probably a major source of companionship for him and it may be one of the few things keeping him going right now.

 

Discuss?

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Yay more discusssions. Must get back to what I was doing but... my initial thoughts:


I totally thought your discussion was going a diff direction by the title...more along the lines of 'should dogs cost less so down-on-their luck folks afford them?'
But in this case it could go either way. I don't think anyone should be forced to give up their dog unless it is being obviously neglected/abused. I have heard stories of some homeless people feeding their dogs quality food FIRST before they even think of themselves. If the possibly homeless man and his dog are true companions...more power to 'em!

Now on the other hand...should a breeder or rescue offer a dog to someone like this? NO. But if the guy already HAS the dog, nothing wrong with him keeping it.
Interesting question. For some it might be said that their pets are the only thing that keeps them going through hard times. It might also be said that their pets might be taken better care of than the dogs who are just relegated to the back yard at all times. The care a dog recieves is not just based on income. I have seen homeless people in NYC with dogs and cats who always have food and are clearly deeply loved and are close friends to their owners.
There are a number of homeless people here who have dogs, and they seem to spend more time and attention on their dogs than do some of my 'well to do' neighbors whose dogs rarely if ever are allowed inside their 'fancy' houses.

There's an elderly homeless guy who sells single copies of newspapers on Sunday in a shopping center parking lot. He always has his little dog in his shopping cart, he takes such good care of that dog, when it's snowing he puts an umbrella over the shopping cart to protect the dog. We always buy a paper from him when we see him, and every few weeks I buy a small bag of kibble for his dog. I don't know if that guy would still be alive or able to function well enough to sell his newspapers if not for his best friend in that shopping cart

Our local humane society provides low cost/free vaccinations and there are more than a few vets in town who I know for a fact will treat a dog of a homeless or poor person at no cost. On the other hand, I spoke to an obviously wealthy woman in the vets office waiting room who was having her cocker euthanized because she said that it needed surgery and the surgery cost too much /sigh
The animal companions that I have seen with homeless people have appeared to have been well taken care of and well loved. It brings a tear to my eye and warms my heart to see that they have each other and obviously care deeply for each other. I have yet to see any of the animals look like they needed a meal although their humans certainly look like they do.
While I was in college in Boston, I traveled the T (train) back and forth from my dorm to my student teaching placement. At the T stop was a guy and his Jack Russell mix. I was missing my dog at home, so I started bringing them treats from my dining services job. These two sat on the bench together every day...in all kinds of weather. Other people brought the guy coats, sleeping bags, etc. and also brought the dog (Shelby) doggie sweaters. The dog and man were inseparable. It was hard to tell who was taking care of whom, but they were a team. I overheard the guy (funny.....I can remember the dog's name, but not the guy's) telling another train rider that they slept in a heated garage when it got really bad. They had an arrangement with some family because the homeless man couldn't go to a shelter with Shelby. As a college kid who loved dogs, that seemed so obvious to me that the guy would rather sleep in a garage with his dog than go to a shelter. As an adult, I still understand it, but I now understand how important the bond between the man and his dog was. They were taking care of each other and gave each other purpose. People and dogs need both.

Have a good night, all.

Susan
I would think rather that possibly the dog had been this man's companion for a long time. The man quite possibly had a job, home, etc. at some time in the not so distant past, something that happens more and more with the economy being what it is today. I would applaud him for keeping his dog and doing the best he can for them both, rather than dropping him at a shelter which is running over with homeless pets that have no homes to go to...or leaving him on his own or in a repossessed home in 110 degree weather with no food or water as so many have done here in Las Vegas. There are way more dogs and other pets than there are good homes for, especially in these times. Maybe all of us who are fortunate enough to still have jobs and homes should just be sure to carry "treats" for all, human and animal, as much as we can. It definitely takes a village in these times for us all to get through!
Overall a very sad yet heartwarming topic. Just tonight on the news I saw little children in Haiti whose mother had given them, soon after the earthquake, to missionaries so that they could have a better life. She regretted it immediately.Subsequently the missionaries were arrested before they could leave the country with all the "orphaned" children they had collected.. Now the children have been returned to their mother who lives in very difficult circumstances. They all were very happy to be together. The moral of the story is I think that being together for the most part in hardship is better than being apart.
I think would keep mine if I became homeless. After loosing my home and possibly job and all, I would want to keep what's left for me. Plus, they are like my kids, I can't give them up because I am homeless. In the other hand, if I become really ill, to the point I can't walk them or anything, let along myself, I should look for good home for them. Because they need to be attended, and cared for. I can still attend to them and care for them when I'm homeless, I think.
It is ironic that the majority sentament is that a person in this unfortunate situation should be able to have a dog becuase of the positive companionship it affords and it may be well treated compared to other suituations that have money and a home but not love. Most people assumed the person had the dog before becoming homeless but that may not be true. Contradicitng this is the position that a breeder would never sell them one. I see this point of view, they have better home options available too choose from. But a shelter would never adopt them one, yet they kill them instead. Certainly a life on the steet with love and little else is better than no life at all. Maybe shelters/rescues should open up a bit?
I guess it would be like adopting out a child in a way, no? I wouldn't want someone taking my child from me if I were suddenly poverty stricken. But I wouldn't expect an adoption agency to adopt out a child to someone in poverty. And if the dog were a stray and the homeless dude and the dog found each other on their own...fine. But a rescue organization has a responsibility to ensure the best possible home for the dog. Not a rich home, but not an unsure home. Most rescues aren't used to being on the street and very likely would run off, bolt, get hit by a car, etc... Rescues don't typically bond to their new person so quickly that they won't try to escape or wander off. But when you can contain the rescue by a fenced yard and house...you are allotted time in which to bond and build trust. IF the homeless dude and his dog have developed that bond...then great. But it isn't a situation where it would be reasonable to place a dog with confidence.
Most kill shelters are municipal animal control facilities which exist for the public's welfare, not the dog's. The employees are salaried governmental personnel who may or may not even like animals, and the "rules" are legislation made by the law makers in that particular city or county. There are many groups fighting to change some of these laws, and anyone who would like to help should do some research on what is happening in their particular area. For more on this topic, do a search for Nathan Winograd, the number one "no-kill" advocate in the U.S.
The policies of no-kill rescue groups and shelters in terms of adopting animals out to indigent people is another issue.
I see many dogs in my neighborhood who have wealthy owners who can afford a high level of care but are gone all day and leave their dogs home alone. I also see homeless people who take their dogs everywhere they go and share their food with them. The dogs who are home alone may have their physical needs better met, but the dogs on the street most certainly have their emotional needs better met.

Me, I would rather be the dog on the street who spends his day with companionship. Ideally, a dog would have both (companionship and high quality health care) but it is not always an ideal world. The street dog may have a shorter life and not get much in the way of healthcare (much like his owner!) but dogs live in the moment and I think the ones I see with homeless people seem quite content.

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