This is the sound of the South LA animal shelter. It can be heard from blocks away, even over the din of rush hour traffic. This sound demonstrates one reason why we promote pet retention within the homeless community.
As animal lovers, we are often asked how we can do this work when people experiencing homelessness can't even take care of themselves, and therefore, they don't have the right to keep an animal.
To begin, we want to make our perspective on homelessness clear. Homelessness is not a result of an individual “not being able to care for themselves.” There are larger systems that contribute to oppression, trauma, and inequitable distribution of resources and wealth that lead to homelessness. Second, at My Dog is My Home, we think a lot about the definition of family. We think about this in terms of who is allowed to have family and choices that are given or restricted based upon race, class, gender identity, and sexual orientation. What this boils down to for us and our particular mission is that people experiencing homelessness have a right to family, and they have a right to choose that family, just like you and me.
Secondly, there are limited resources for animals that need rescuing and rehoming, ultimately
leaving thousands upon thousands of healthy and lovable animals to be euthanized each year
for lack of people who want to adopt them. Animals who accompany people experiencing
homelessness are often very well loved and cared for. In short, these animals have people who
love them. Save rescue resources for animals that truly need rescuing.
We encourage people to keep the bigger picture in mind. By focusing on the solution - ending
homelessness and poverty - we can work on putting people in a position to care for themselves
and their loved ones rather than spending energy making judgements about who a person can
keep in their company. In the meantime, groups like ours work towards a mission of bridging the gap in what people need and what they have access to.