As we mark National Dog Day on August 26th, this year I’d like to encourage people to think about the pets of the homeless.
Given the endless support and love that dogs bring to us, it is no surprise many homeless people across Australia live on the streets with a dog by their side.
With 1 in 200 people falling under the Australian Bureau of Statistics’s definition of homelessness and the 2016 Australian Census showing 120,000 people as homeless*, this also means there are many pets living on the street and not receiving the basic care they need.
Through my work with Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR) and supporting the work of Pets of the Homeless (POTH) here in Melbourne, I have seen first-hand the struggle that someone dealing with homelessness faces to meet their own basic needs, let alone feed and provide the healthcare that their pets also need.
Only last week I found myself called upon in an emergency to pick up a dog and take him into my care when his owner found himself having to choose between living on the streets or take up emergency accommodation and surrender his dog to a shelter during the COVID-19 lockdown and possibly beyond.
It’s heartbreaking to know that not only do the people not have a roof over their head, or the food or medical care they need that so many of us take for granted, their pets are also suffering in silence. Many pets of the homeless cold, in pain, suffering anxiety and other behavioural and/or health issues as a result.
How you can help the pets of the homeless
Fortunately there are some amazing organisations working to help the increasing number of people and pets in desperate need of help in these unprecedented times. They are working to help provide food, medical care and foster care for the pets of the homeless and need your support.
This can mean a financial donation to your local shelter or rescue organisation that is providing foster care for pets of the homeless, lending volunteer support with local food bank initiatives, becoming a foster carer and more.
Below is a list of select charities around the country that are working to support those most in need so please do what you can to help those that are helping others that need it most.
Perth Homeless Support Group Inc
Pets in the Park
Pets in the Park mobile medical services are temporarily on hold due to COVID-19 but to find out more about their work and how you can support it, visit their webpage and get in touch.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a NDTF certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training and boarding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of Eat, Play, Love Your Dog.