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Pets of the Homeless: A Forgotten Tragedy February 27, 2007 1:30 PM

Pets Of The Homeless: A Forgotten Tragedy By Genevieve Frederick Feb 24, 2007 Northeastern residents have suffered from this winterís worst winter storms. For advocates of the homeless they are concerned as the homeless try to find shelter from the cold, snow and ice. Advocates of pets of the homeless are also troubled because those shelters will not allow pets to stay inside. Most people who experience homelessness (eighty percent) are homeless for a short period of time, and usually need help finding housing and/or a rent subsidy. But unfortunately, for those with pets it becomes more difficult. Many are forced to choose between their pet and a roof over their head. Surprisingly, most choose to stay on the streets with their pets for longer periods of time. Their pets are nonjudgmental, offer comfort, and provide an emotional bond of loyalty. In some cases they provide the homeless protection and keep them warm. The tragic part is, the pets of the homeless do not choose their owners. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires metropolitan areas to do a homeless count the last week of January. Those figures have not been published and it will take months before the totals are complied. The most recent figures are from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, they reported that on one night during the last week of January in 2005, an estimated 744,313 people experienced homelessness in the United States. Fifty six percent of the homeless people counted were living in shelters and transitional housing and, forty four percent were unsheltered. The report also stated that 98,452 were families. Many homeless people and families have pets.  [ send green star]
 February 27, 2007 1:32 PM

The Veterans Administration reports that more than 200,000 U.S. veterans are homeless on any given day.† It is estimated by the National Coalition for the Homeless, Michael Stoops, Acting Executive Director that between five and ten percent of homeless people have dogs and/or cats.† In some areas of the country that number is greater.† Monte Fast, Executive Director of FISH (Friends in Service Helping) in Carson City, Nevada says the figure is more like twenty five percent.†

Finding any kind of shelter for those with pets is impossible but finding food may have just gotten easier.† A new program to help feed the pets of the homeless and disadvantaged was launched in December, Feeding Pets of the Homeless.† The program enrolls veterinarian hospitals and clinics around the country to collect pet food from their clientele in their communities.† Then the hospital or clinic partners with a local food bank, shelter or soup kitchen.† The food bank then distributes the pet food along with food for the homeless and disadvantaged.

Genevieve Frederick is an independent columnist

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Genevieve Frederick

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