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Psychol Rep. 1994 Jun;74(3 Pt 1):715-22.

Benefits and liabilities of pets for the homeless.

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  • 1Center for Animals in Society, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis.


Observations in the streets and parks of San Francisco East Bay cities and suburbs suggested that many of the homeless people own and maintain pet animals in spite of circumstances and environmental conditions. Accordingly, 105 homeless adult men and women, half of whom owned pets, were interviewed for this pilot study. Responses indicated that homeless pet-owners were extremely attached to their pets and had owned significantly more pets during childhood and adolescence than nonowners although there were no significant differences in attachment to pets between parents and nonparents or between married and single persons. Providing food and veterinary care for pets, however, was a very significant problem for the majority of the homeless pet-owners. It was clear that many homeless adults did have pets which were important for their mental and physical health and that pet care was associated with unique problems.

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