Benefits and Liabilities of Pets for the Homeless

This article reports on a pilot study of 105 homeless men and women in the San Francisco, California East Bay area, half of whom owned pets. The purpose of the study was three-fold: (1) to determine the degree of attachment these individuals had to their pets: (2) to determine whether or not those who had owned pets as children or adolescents demonstrated a stronger attachment; and (3) to find out if the single homeless individuals with no children were more attached to their pets than those individuals who were married and/or had children. Findings indicated that the homeless pet owners were extremely attached to their pets and had owned significantly more pets during childhood and adolescence than the non-owners. However, no significant differences in attachment were found between the married and single homeless individuals. The findings also indicated that providing food and veterinary care for pets was a significant problem for the majority of the homeless pet-owners. The authors suggest that for many homeless individuals, pets are important for physical and mental well-being, but pet-care presents some unique problems for which solutions must be found (authors).

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Psychological Reports