I have a passion for pets and I’ve taken that passion and created a cause that I hope will reach every corner of the United States of America.
I want to help feed the pets of the homeless. Most of us have seen homeless people on the streets, many accompanied by animal companions….mostly dogs.
I’ve called my cause “My Dog Eats First” and you can check it out here: www.mydogeatsfirst.com. Many times, when a homeless person with a pet is given food to eat, they feed their companions first. I’ve seen this first-hand and you can read my story here: http://mydogeatsfirst.com/our-story/.
Statistics show that, on any given night there are about 640,000 homeless people in the United States.
It’s also been estimated that 5-10% of homeless people have dogs or cats as their companions but the numbers vary geographically and it’s difficult to come up with highly accurate statistics. Nonetheless, there is a large number of animals who live with homeless humans and in many cases the animals are the lifeline and reason for living for these people without a home, human beings living in a stigmatized and marginalized environment in which few if any would choose to live.
A new book by University of Colorado sociology Professor Leslie Irvine is the first to explore what it takes to live on the streets with an animal. Using interviews with more than seventy homeless people in four cities, My Dog Always Eats First reveals what animals mean for homeless people and how they care for their four-legged friends. You can read the introduction to this landmark book here. Dr. Irvine’s book provides rich descriptions of how animals provide social and emotional support and protection from harm (see also ”My dog feels my pain“), and, in some cases, even helped turn around the lives of people who had few other reasons to live.
Dr. Irvine initially found this research to be very challenging. Because homeless shelters do not typically allow animals, homeless pet owners usually stay on the street and “under the radar.” Then, she made connections with veterinarians who hold street clinics for the pets of the homeless, such as VET SOS in San Francisco and the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless in Sacramento, California. She interviewed people at the clinics and even went on veterinary “house calls” into homeless camps, where she would not have ventured on her own.
Building on the work she began in If You Tame Me: Understanding our Connections with Animals, Dr. Irvine continues exploring how animals serve as “significant others” for their human companions. Homeless people told her how their dogs encouraged interaction with others and kept them from becoming isolated. Former addicts and alcoholics described how their animals inspired them to get clean and sober. People who had spent years on the streets explained how they responded to the insults they heard from strangers who thought they should not have a pet. And they praised those who provided pet food and a kind word.
If you would like to help me feed the pets of the homeless we will pick up any food/supply donations that you have.
– Beth Green
Pack Leader At Paws Pet Care Pet Sitting & Dog Walking
Executive Director of My Dog Eats First