Although some homeless in vehicles keep cats, it's dogs who make the best companion animals for the homeless, because they are so responsive and loyal.
A DOG AS A COMPANION IS A CONSISTANCY
This is especially true it a person had the dog BEFORE they became homeless.
We've met people who are homeless because of their pet or pets. They can't find another place to live that will take them and the pet or pets so they prefer their van or RV. This may seem ridiculous to some people, but not when you face the fact that if you give your pets up at a shelter they might be facing death. Older cats and dogs especially. (In LA County about 40 % of cats turned into county shelters are put to death.) You made a commitment to them, love them, and will not put them to death.
Then you may have to keep moving or not know exactly where you're going to sleep.
BUT YOU DO KNOW WHO WILL BE RIGHT THERE BESIDE YOU - your DOG.
Some of the dogs are great as watch dogs and protectors. Maybe they wouldn't bite someone attacking you, but they might give them pause, or wake you up so you know someone is coming.
SO SAFETY FIGURES INTO WHY A HOMELESS PERSON WANTS A DOG BESIDE THEM.
COMPANION and SERVICE ANIMALS that you want to take into libraries and other places usually have to be ID'd as such. It's pretty easy to get the paperwork from a doctor if you have been diagnosed as mentally ill, or in need of emotional support. The animal should be able to stay by your side quietly for as long as you're on a computer or reading in a corner or keep them right beside you in the store. Some people do have the letter from their doctor for their dog to be ID'd as a companion or service animal but can't afford the ID, Vest, or other paperwork. THE DOG'S FUNCTION CAN BE ANYTHING FROM ALERTING YOU TO AN EPILEPTIC ATTACK, REMINDING YOU TO TAKE A MEDICINE, or KEEPING YOU CALM.
PEOPLE WITH POST TRAUMATIC STRESS such as veterans can benefit from having a calm and loving protector by their side.
FINALLY, HOMELESSNESS can BE LONELY. A homeless person may not have family, may have been abused by or abandoned by family, have experienced the death of their spouse and be in mourning, or suffering from the loss of their home and possessions. They may not be getting love or be able to give love to anyone right now. Their dog is always ready, willing, and able to be loved and most of us think - give love in return.
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