Pets, People and Poverty: Caring At Cross Purposes That Doesn’t Need To Happen

man in sleeping bag with marmalade cat curled up next to him.
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A disabled pet, a homeless encampment, well-meaning animal rescue workers, an activist intervention, an overwhelmed new pet owner. Result: two deaths to date, one by euthanasia. These events are survived by a lawsuit still pitting together people who seem to lack a practical knowledge of how they are battling for the same side, not against each other.

Author Tommy Balmat kicks off with an exploration of pets and poverty with a sad, unfortunate. It begins with the a crippled dog that is removed from living in a tent with an unhoused person. The dog is taken in care, but its physical needs are too much for the animal rescue agency and its volunteer supporters. The dog is euthanized, ending attempts by the unhoused owner (who has since died) to retrieve their ‘stolen’ pet.

Balmat carries on a with a survey of the players, individuals and agencies, particularly the much misunderstood capabilities of people who are unhoused to care for pets in the face of extreme poverty. His exploration also touches upon the tragedy of those hanging onto housing security by their fingernails. Eventually some animal lovers see no other choice but to surrender their animal companions to animal care agencies.

Read (or listen to) more from THE AMERICAN PROSPECT: Thinking Differently About Unhoused People and Their Pets