For people who experience challenges in their daily life, whether it be homelessness/unstable housing, unsafe living conditions, mental health/substance use concerns or low income, finding a service that supports their relationship with their pet is almost non-existent.
As community workers in Toronto for over 25 years, we know that there is a need for a service that will look after pets while their human attends short and/or long term support services.
Want some examples?
i) There is only one shelter in Toronto that allows people to bring their pet; the shelter capacity is below twenty, with an extremely long wait list
ii) People who are precariously housed or homeless cannot access services because they don't have anyone to look after their pet
iii) If someone is sent to jail, their pet is surrendered to animal services without their consent. They are never reunited because their pet has either been adopted out, put down or lost in the system of 'unwanted' animals
So this means...
i) A person may stay in a violent situation because they do not want to leave their beloved pet with the abuser
ii) People opt out of going to hospitals or treatment centres because there is no one in their life who can care for their pet and there are no affordable or free boarding options
iii) The grief of losing one's pet is devastating for both human and animal. This is a traumatic event that can hinder one's emotional, mental and physical well-being and remain a constant source of pain throughout their life