Pets of the Homeless: Providing for Your Pet When You Can’t Provide for Yourself

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, in September 2014, there was an “all-time record” 58,056 homeless people sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. A recent study revealed that over 3,357 unsheltered homeless people sleep on New York City streets, with nearly 60 percent sleeping in Manhattan. Between 5 percent to 10 percent of homeless people in New York City have dogs and/or.

With groundbreaking numbers of homeless people living in New York City, it is hard to believe that the homeless burden themselves with the ownership of an animal. However, in many cases, the homeless community finds solace, protection, and companionship through their pets. By caring for their furry, four-legged friend, many homeless people sacrifice their own starvation and habitation for their dogs or cats.

Throughout New York City, a majority of homeless shelters do not allow pets. As a result, these homeless shelters reject hundreds of homeless people and their pets each night.

Photo Courtesy // Pets of the Homeless Organization
Photo Courtesy // Pets of the Homeless Organization

Currently, there is only one shelter available for the homeless and their pets. In May 2013, the Mayor’s Alliance partnered with Urban Resource Institute and its People and Animals Living Safely (URIPALS) pilot programs to provide co-sheltering for families and their pets. The PALS programs specifically works with victims of domestic violence, in an effort to provide “essential support in the form of crucial expertise and technical assistance by addressing the link between animal welfare and human welfare.” The Mayor’s Alliance and the Urban Resource Institute are “seeking funds and resources to equip its facility to accept dogs and expand the program to other shelters.”

In an effort to change the harsh reality for homeless people and their pets, the nonprofit organization Pets of the Homeless provides pet food and veterinary care to the homeless living in New York City and across the United States. Pets of the Homeless’s mission is to “feed and provide basic emergency veterinary care” to homeless people’s pets, thus relieving the “anguish and anxiety of the homeless who cannot provide for their pets.”

Throughout New York City, there are 11 donation sites that collect pet food and pet supplies for those in need. By working with distributing organizations, such as local food banks, pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters, these collection sites provide the necessary resources and services for homeless people and their furry companions.

Hundreds of homeless people with pets in New York City struggle to provide for themselves and their beloved animals. Through nonprofit organizations like Pets of the Homeless and shelters like URIPALS, humans and animals are given a second chance in life.