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Will Paying Panhandlers to Foster Puppies Pay Off?

Will Paying Panhandlers to Foster Puppies Pay Off?

I used to pass through a large subway station in Manhattan on my commute home, and every evening on my way to the train I saw a panhandler begging in the station with a couple of kittens at his side. The kittens didn’t look healthy, and they never grew — but that was because he swapped them frequently for new kittens. I don’t know where he got his supply of kittens or what he did with the ones who grew too big for his standards. Every day I was tempted to grab the furry babies and run so I could nurse them back to health and save them from whatever fate awaited them when they grew up, but I knew he would just replace them with new, sad kittens.

This memory leapt to mind when I read SFGate‘s story about San Francisco’s plan to recruit panhandlers to foster homeless puppies. The proposed program, called “Woof,” won’t help homeless people: only those with housing may participate.

The city will pay $50 to $75 per week in exchange for fostering the puppies on the condition that participants in the program stop begging. If they are caught begging with the puppies, the dogs will return to the shelter.

The two goals of this project — to get panhandlers off the streets, the other to socialize puppies who would otherwise be euthanized — are laudable. Ideally they could brighten the lives of former panhandlers, save the lives of homeless dogs, and improve the quality of life for San Francisco’s residents by reducing the number of beggars on the streets.

But will this program achieve those goals? Several factors will determine the outcome:

  • How much money do Bay Area panhandlers generally make in a week? If they make more than $50 to $75, there is no financial incentive for them to participate in the program, or to abide by the rule against begging if they do participate.
  • What enforcement efforts will authorities make to ensure that foster parents don’t beg with the puppies? How high are the chances that they would get caught if they did so?
  • Each puppy would be fostered for only two to six weeks.  Is that enough time for someone with minimal training to socialize a puppy so problematic that he or she had been deemed unadoptable?  It usually takes longer than that.

If Woof does succeed it will be a marvelous boon to panhandlers and to homeless puppies. The odds seem gainst it.  What do you think?

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6:28AM PDT on Jul 18, 2013

thank you for sharing 18/7

7:44PM PDT on Jun 24, 2013

Enforcement by who, how often ... you're kidding, right? Panhandlers can sell off cute puppies quite easily I imagine, use the $50-75 offered on themselves, move on and go off the radar to another location. I don't like it, heart's in the right place but nothing else.

8:32AM PDT on Jun 24, 2013

Anything that helps animals and people at least deserves a try. Hope this works for both.

5:30PM PDT on Jun 2, 2013

There are many people, living on the street, who are very intelligent but have fallen on hard times. Being homeless is no longer mainly due to mental health problems like it was after the government emptied the mental asylums. Many of the homeless are returning veterans who haven't been able to get the care they need for physical and emotional problems. I think, if they select the panhandlers with care, that the program has a good chance of working. It is certainly worth a try.

8:32AM PDT on May 30, 2013


1:12PM PDT on May 29, 2013

All that's needed is one dog-fighting freak who likes the looks of a puppy as "bait". He will most assuredly offer to pay more than the maintenance pay offered to handle food. For that reason alone, I say bad idea.

7:11AM PDT on May 1, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:51AM PDT on Aug 26, 2012

Non sono sicuro di questa idea ma grazie per la condivisione.

2:12AM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

While I am all for programs that prevent euthanizing homeless pets and getting people off the streets is a wonder thing, I do see some problems with it. First and foremost is, I think most panhandlers make more than $50 a week on the streets. I understand why the city/county/shelter can not pay more, but I just don't think it will be of real financially incentive. Also, who will train the people to work with the puppies properly? Who will pay for their food, supplies and any needed vet care? Who will screen the people to make certain they are not animal abusers? If all these challenges can be worked out, then it would be a wonderful program; one that might even provide the homeless (humans) with a new purpose in life that they need to get off the streets and employed AND save the life of dogs that would other wise be euthanized at the shelter.

7:49AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

If they keep being checked up on. There are only so many homes.

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