Never understimate the influences of pets. Homelessness is a very complex issue that is different for everyone experiencing it. Sleeping on the streets is a horribly difficult, isolating and dehumanizing thing to do. As a homeless person, many people act like you don’t exist. Or they choose to look the other way when they see you.
Each day you’re faced with unimaginable struggles and you’re typically facing these struggles by yourself. But, what if you own a pet? Your pet could be the only thing in your life that keeps you safe; if not the only thing giving you a reason to keep trekking.
Here we gather 10 gigantic influences of pets for the homless. Get ready to understand why pets have a massive influence on their homeless owners
1. Pets provide safety
Living on the streets can be extremely dangerous and when it’s time to sleep at night, there are many uncertainties. Homeless people are subject to hatred and abuse, especially women.
Everyone wants to have a good sleep at night but that isn’t always possible if you’re on the streets and you’re constantly worrying if someone is going to attack you or steal your belongings. Many homeless people who have pets rely on them for their protection.
Pets are great for deterring danger away, as well as acting as alarms if danger is present.
2. Pets provide warmth
In addition to providing safety, pets can also provide warmth. In places like Alberta, winters can get disturbingly cold which can be deadly for people without homes – people literally freeze to death. However, these are extreme circumstances. But even when its slightly chilly outside pets can provide vital warmth if you have no other options.
3. Pets decrease the use of alcohol and drugs
Studies have actually shown that homeless people who own pets are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. As their pets are their priority, homeless owners usually go to great lengths to ensure they don’t lose them.
Owning a pet gives people a sense of responsibility and it makes them aware of potential consequences. It’s common for homeless owners to avoid doing drugs in order to keep their pets safe and in their possession.
4. Pets improve mental health
It’s no secret that animals can boost people’s moods and actually improve the mental health of their owners. In comparison, homeless people with pets usually admit that they feel less lonely and depressed than homeless people who don’t have them.
Dogs specifically provide astounding emotional support which can be life saving for someone who has experienced trauma such as those who are homeless. A homeless persons dog may be the only living thing that cares about them.
5. Pets attract attention from society
As I’ve already stated, it is often that homeless people are ignored and overlooked by society. Having a pet on the streets can help get positive attention from people. In other words, people in general notice more pets on the streets than their owners.
This can sometimes lead to verbal encounters between the homeless owner and a random person who is interested in the pet. While this may not seem like a significant influence, it is important to remember that homeless people are often alienated and can go days without speaking to anyone so this encounter could be extremely impactful. Pets are a great conversation starter for everyone, including the homeless.
6. Pets are good for heart health
Yes, one of the biggest influences of pets is their impact on health. Their presence usually helps to decrease at healthy rates the blood pressure in their owners, and they can actually regulate heart rates for those experiencing stressful situations. Homeless people face countless hurdles every day which can greatly impact their stress levels, however those with pets are more likely to stay calm.
Those who have dogs or cats are at a lower risk of having rapid heart rates and high blood pressure, but if they do experience these things, their heart rates and/or high blood pressure will go back to normal faster than those without. Being homeless puts people at risk for many physical diseases but having a pet can help protect against issues associated with heart disease.
7. Pets can improve self esteem
Owning a pet as a homeless person can be beneficial to one’s self esteem because research from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology indicates that pet owners display stronger self esteem than people without pets. Homelessness can feel embarrassing, humiliating and degrading due to the harsh realities of sleeping on the streets.
Owning a pet can help a homeless person not only realize their responsibilities for that pet but it can also help them become more extroverted. As stated already, pets provide an opportunity for other people to actually see and recognize their homeless owners.
This can help these homeless people reduce their fears associated with interacting with other society members and can overall lift one’s self esteem.
8. They provide support
Pets make people feel supported and this can be especially impactful for those who might not get support from anyone else. It’s been proven that pet owners can actually feel the same amount of support from their pets as they would with their family or friends.
Many homeless people don’t have family or friends to rely on so having a pet could be their only pillar of support. Pets are not capable of judging you or commenting on your choices – instead they only provide unconditional love to their owners. This is, perhaps, one of the most remarkable influences of pets for the homless.
9. Pets are a great way to stay active
Having a pet dog on the streets is the same as having a pet dog with a home, both require walks to get their needed physical activity.
Even by taking two 15-minute walks a day with your dog will help keep you physically healthy and this is something even homeless people can benefit from. It is proven that those with dogs get more physical activity than those without.
10. Pets care about their owners
Homeless people live unimaginable lives and they experience things that nobody should ever go through. Homeless people with pets can gain countless emotional benefits from them, whether their dealing with anxiety, anger, PTSD, depression, loneliness and more. Pets are capable of empathizing with their owners and they can tell when they are unhappy.