Day 87: Takeaway #2- Animals are Support, Not Baggage

For Takeaway #2, I would like to focus on the importance of pets’ role for those experiencing homelessness. Even before starting The HomeMore Project, I was always interested in the unhoused population with pets, primarily those with dogs, as there are many unhoused dogs. Throughout the distribution of our Makeshift Traveler, we have met numerous friends who have dogs; here are some to name few:

Connecting with these friends and others has opened my eyes to the realities of experiencing homelessness with a furry friend. Firstly, entering shelters is an enormous challenge as most shelters do not allow pets. If they do, stringent restrictions often make unhoused pet owners willing to conform to those rules. For people like Jada and her dog Jasper, because Jasper is not euthanized, Jada has been denied most shelter options. 

People in the industry have called dogs and other pets a type of ‘baggage,’ seen as an extra hassle or liability. However, dogs and other pets should be seen as a sense of responsibility and, more importantly, a presence of emotional support. To read more, former Communications Intern, Michelle Chen, wrote a phenomenal article about pet owners who experience homelessness which can be found here

Overall, pets are essential to helping specific individuals alleviate the challenges of homelessness. Pets are a form of emotional support, responsibility, and relationship and should be treated as a necessary part of the solution for those who own a pet. Pets must be included in all transitional housing and rehabilitation programs, as well as shelters or other forms of temporary housing. 

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