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The health and welfare of dogs owned by homeless people

Authors:

Abstract

A significant number of homeless people own dogs, with these animals contributing to the well-being of their owners by providing emotional support and in many cases, a reason for living as well as acting as what might be termed a social catalyst, improving bonds between their owners. Yet many consider that homeless people should not be allowed, let alone encouraged to keep a dog. They consider that living with homeless people must have a negative impact on the dog’s health and welfare compared to that of a dog owned by people with a home. Here we sought to determine the health and welfare of dogs owned by homeless people, comparing 50 dogs owned by homeless people with 50 owned by people living in a home. In contradistinction to the negative view noted above, we found that dogs owned by homeless people were healthy animals, less likely to be obese, had fewer behaviour issues such as aggression to strangers and separation anxiety when compared to dogs owned by people living in a conventional home. We suggest that these findings should be taken into account when deciding whether a homeless person with a dog should be allowed into a hostel, and indeed the general attitude of the public to homeless people living with a dog by their side on the street.
The health and welfare of dogs belonging to
homeless people.
David Leonard Williams and Sarah Hogg1
HIGHLIGHTS
      

       

              

Pet Behaviour Science | 2016, Vol. 1, 23 – 30
David Leonard Williams and Sarah Hogg
1. Department of Veterinary
Medicine. University of
Cambridge
Paper Research
Email:
dlw33@cam.ac.uk
United Kingdom Keywords:


1. INTRODUCTION

!      "  
##
     
$%&'()))*+(),-
(.))
 !  (,/   
  0  $1  "  (),-* + 
       
      2 

  3   
        
   $4  0
5 (),, 6'   ,778* 1
   '     $9:5
5&());%'())-* 
       
$4,77-5<
Page 23
Creative Common License 4.0 – Non Commercial – Share Alike – Attribution
2016 | Vol.1 | 23 - 30
Abstract
=32

>
'1
:
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?@
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A

,77-    ,777    ()), 1  
());* +   B    ' 
      
    ?  

1          
2    
$4(),,0'())7*
12    
 $   ,77( " ())(
0C  @ (),,*    
 3     
 $,77D 6 ,77, @ 
1 ,778 64=6 ,777 6   ,777*  
   E :    
     ' 
$",77."()))*
      
3A    
   $< ()), ! 
!,77;*    
        
       $"
()))*       
 $' ()),*    
    C
  $1   ());* =    

     $ ,777*
      '  
A$1());*
    
    4     
    ())) "   
 A  '  
  1 @  5 $());*
      A 
       
       
   

         
   B   B  
!       $ 1 FB
()).*       
    =   

   
$6 ,77-* F   
:
       
G$FB(),-*%
      ?

       
  $0C  @ (),,* 1
B
      
$H,77- ' ()),*=
        ' 
      $<
,778<()),*
1  A     
 $0C 
@ (),,* @     

' 

     ?  -) 
   -)   A


2. METHODS

=C
        I
 E ': ?  C
 :-)2
       4
 0 D8 2  
  '     
   ,(    
2
"6F4=       
4 =        
    '          
 '  
' @ ?
              ?  
  '           3  <
Page 24
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2016 | Vol.1 | 23 - 30
A
  6  '
    
        
'
9'C,
:          
     ?   
    1   
 ?
        ?
        ?
$% ,*      
   1
            
C $0G ,77.* 
        
@6=J
=    $@6=J=  (),D*  "
'

@K
K
@K
?K
:K
K
K
AK
+K
Table 1. Questions asked of owners during informal
discussion
%              
  
           
'   
 +  C

1 
 4 J 6  A=
    L  
      '  

3. RESULTS
=3 
     2
$MN-;ND78
L O -) M D.N(7 L O -)  O ))D*  
     3
 L 2   
,(

=       
   8)/     A
      ;-/ 
     $P)),* = 
      
   @   B
 22     
8'$.)/* 
 $QQ/*
2 C $.)/*
 $D7/*C
        
$(./*Q7/   A
  2   8,/  
       
$P))-*

@  A     
:
$D8R-)*B
'2$DQR-)*@7--/
;Q/
A       
     ?   


<       C 
?     
   '    ../ 
   ? '  3
'   '  
88/
Page 25
Dogs belonging to homeless people
Creative Common License 4.0 – Non Commercial – Share Alike – Attribution
Williams, D.L. and Hogg, S.
 A    B   
   '   ()2D) 
((/        ' 
  1     
''

      
3  '     EC 
: $S( O ,)D % O ,  O ))),*  
A'
       
'$S( O ;Q-% O, O ))D,* 
Page 26
www Pet Behaviour Science org
Creative Common License 4.0 – Non Commercial – Share Alike – Attribution
2016 | Vol.1 | 23 - 30
%,F?
A3'

$S(ODQ8%O,O))--*L3
      
$S(O,Q,% O ,O)()-*
$S(O)8Q- % O ,  O )D-(*   
$S(O,D,%O,O)(8;*
$S(O);7,%O,O);8;*
 
2  3 ' 
     A2
  $S( O (;( % O ,  P ))),* 
  A   3 
''$S(O7(%O,
 O )))(*     
$S(O.Q)%O,O)))Q*3'
$S(O-)(%O,O))(-*L
3      
$S(O(QD%O,O),)-*?$S(O(;(
% O ,  O ),)(* ?  $S( O );.Q
%O ,  O );7;*      
CA '$S(O (.D%O,
O))77*
!"
= 3      
  $46*     
  2  $M
-.N,(DLO-)M ;DN)7.L O-)  OP)),*
-46
  -    2  $0G  ,77.* 2
 3  46 
      22
        

1   3   
   2
  A   $S( O ).,D % O ,
O)7DD*     3 
    M '  
 $S(O))7; % O ,  O )887* 
$S(O(;(%O , O),)(*
$S(ODD%O,O))Q7*
$S(O(D;%O,O),(Q*
$S( O (.D % O ,  O ))77*   
  $S( O D(, % O ,  O )).D*
$S(ODQ8%O,O))--*
$S(O).,D%O,O)7DD*
# "
"       
   A    7--/
      ,-   ;(
         

=   (./  
;Q/
:     
(./
        
    A   
'.8/ 22
     D7/   
$P)),*,Q/A
     
 ,8/29D
 -) A      
 ,8  ;;   8)/  A 
     Q/  
 ,;/ 
D)/ D)/;)/
    < 
A
Q(/   
 ((/    <  
  '  3?      
 6    
     

 -)/  A   
    G ,)/  
;)/
     (./ (-/  ;8/ 

4. DISCUSSION
4
    
     A 
?
Page 27
Dogs belonging to homeless people
Creative Common License 4.0 – Non Commercial – Share Alike – Attribution
Williams, D.L. and Hogg, S.
  C  
      1    
       
?        
       2

=  G '   2

   22
        
     5
       2
1
     
   
12
    '  
 '  
     = 
       
#  3 

       
1
      

        

1       

A1B
  2    
        
     $ ,(   *
      +
    ? B;(
   $4 ())(*   .8)  
A   8(,   A  
 $9L6 (),)* 1   
         
    B +  
        ?
   '     '  

           
3     
  A  6  
?        
        
      A I 1
  ?     A

 '       
    B   222
B'
=   C

?         
    A
 9 B   

  346 
2 
         
      <
       
       
   ?
 '      2 
  3     
         

4  ?            

?      
          

?

9            
@
?              

'   G 
          
#1

          
1            ?    
    3      
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2016 | Vol.1 | 23 - 30

             
            
=        
          
          3    
?
#
:  

=  3              
#             
                  
@    A          
             "6F4=
    :      
           
      

+#
       6A
?
?
  
    2        
      ?          
?
  '            
        +        
'
0 '    
C     
C 1       
   
      
    @ '  
    
G?C
     ?  
$   * =
 C     
      %
  '      ' 
   R   
        
     '  
9
G   3 

5. CONCLUSION
1       ?  
        
    A A  3 
 1 ' 3 
       
3    2
 1 
      2 
      
1
%
   
2   
     
A+
       3 
  :  
  '   2  
'
        
     1   
?    '   


    
+

3
6. REFERENCES
' 9 ()), = : 0  F 
1F9?M4
6,777 6M6
40M+FF"
4  0 5 (),, 6
M < T (),,  $+6L
7.8,;)78(-QD)*
Page 29
Dogs belonging to homeless people
Creative Common License 4.0 – Non Commercial – Share Alike – Attribution
Williams, D.L. and Hogg, S.
4 ())( 6  0M
4
4 (),, 6   0M
4
    ,77( 1 + M
?62=
+L>'M4 F
1FB()).M=
5
"M
https://www.moretodogstrust.org.uk/downloads/Happy-&-
Healthy-2007-FINAL.pdf=U(),Q
=1,77D$"
#,D(MDD.2DD8
%&' 6 ! F  !' 6 ())) 6
M = 9  "  
MFF
 0' ())7 6  L  F
$6L=F*
! =   ! " < ,77; 3 
!"#
.;M.,-2.((
0C U @ 4 = (),,  @:
J  + 4 = 
66%&(;M.727-
0GF,77.
 !
((M,)2,-
<4()),10'"=M7)2
7;
9L6 $9#  L 6* (),) (
")"M
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/health-ineq/trend-in-life-
expectancy-by-socioeconomic-position-by-the-national-
statistics-socioeconomic-classification--england-and-
wales/1982-86-to-2007-11/stb-trend-in-life-expectancy.html
=(),-
" 0 ())) %    M
6      
*%!"+
,DM,(-2,D(
" + ,77.  3  4
=) < <M @ 4  F
L
"0<())(+2
=  0 ,(-"
%#*;D$,*MDD2D.
6'!!<,778F
    LA V  
+./ !%' 0 !  % ' 

64=6 $1 6  4 = 6*
,777 1      
$"!+,,M.28
6U=,77,3
*
#""18;M.,.2.()
1"(),-"M
http://www.thamesreach.org.uk/news-and-
views/homelessness-facts-and-figures/=U
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2016 | Vol.1 | 23 - 30
... Animal empathy also extends to the actual care for nonhuman animals, as those facing homelessness often choose to feed pets before feeding themselves (Irvine, Kahl, & Smith, 2012). Dogs of individuals facing homelessness have been shown to be in better overall health than dogs of the securely housed, with less obesity (while not being underweight), less aggression toward strangers, and less separation anxiety (Williams & Hogg, 2016). In essence, housing, or one's housing status, is not a precondition for caring relationships between humans and nonhuman animals and may actually make it more difficult to empathetically care for the nonhuman other. ...
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When humans interact with nonhuman nature in seemingly normative ways, through consumption, recreation, admiration, romanticizing, etc., an imperfect but intact binary is often perpetuated; that is, humans are positioned as distinct from nature. Posthumanist political ecology destabilizes the human experience as the sole source of nature-society knowledges. With contributions from actor-network theory and assemblages, posthumanist political ecology provides systems-based analyses where nonhuman actants are underscored within socioenvironmental systems. This research leverages posthumanist political ecology to approach experiences and perspectives concerning unsheltered homelessness, with particular attention to individuals living in urban parks. Using etic and emic accounts, our developed network critically considers nonhuman, wild, and sociopolitical contributions to a contested, dynamic system of unsheltered homelessness. We present posthumanist political ecology as an avenue for leisure research and scholarship to contest problematic binaries concerning nonhuman nature and to more critically address issues of social and environmental injustice.
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A 10-month prospective study was carried out which examined changes in behaviour and health status in 71 adult subjects following the acquisition of a new pet (either dogs or cats). A group of 26 subjects without pets served as a comparison over the same period. Both pet-owning groups reported a highly significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month following pet acquisition, and this effect was sustained in dog owners through to 10 months. The pet-acquiring groups also showed improvements in their scores on the 30-item General Health Questionnaire over the first 6 months and, in dog owners, this improvement was maintained until 10 months. In addition, dog owners took considerably more physical exercise while walking their dogs than the other two groups, and this effect continued throughout the period of study. The group without pets exhibited no statistically significant changes in health or behaviour, apart from a small increase in recreational walking. The results provide evidence that pet acquisition may have positive effects on human health and behaviour, and that in some cases these effects are relatively long term.
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One of the major problems in obesity management has been the lack of a practical method for accurately assessing obesity. The body condition score (BCS) system described in this paper is simple in design requiring only an intellectual addition to a routine physical examination. It has been shown to be repeatable both within scorers and between scorers and may be useful as a tool to obesity management. This paper details of nine points BCS system for cats, including its validation and some clinical applications of this tool.
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A sample of 51 homeless people in Cambridge, UK completed a questionnaire featuring adapted Animal Empathy and Companion Animal Bonding Scales. Concepts of crime, drug use, and health matters amongst the homeless, both dog owning and non-dog owning, were investigated, as well. Ninety members of the general public completed a similar questionnaire which sought their opinions on homeless people who own dogs. There was a highly significant difference (p < 0.01) between the homeless and the securely housed on their animal empathy and attachment scores, with the homeless sample displaying higher values. Gender and dog ownership status had no effect on these scores. A near significant result (U = 2, n1 = 13, n2 = 58, p = 0.06) was revealed for animal empathy scores of those who gave money to dog-owning homeless people and those who gave to non-dog owning homeless people. Of the public respondents, women were significantly more likely to show concern for a homeless person's dog's welfare than men (X2(1) = 8.5, p < 0.01), and of the homeless respondents, non-dog owners were significantly more likely than dog owners to believe that having a dog helped initiate conversations with the public (X2(1) = 4.0, p < 0.05). Highly significant differences (U = 10, n1 = 31, n2 = 20, p < 0.01) were found for medical care use between the dog-owning and non-dog owning homeless, and health scores showed a reversed trend compared to that expected for the general population, with dog owners scoring lower than non-dog owners.
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The literature examining the relationship between homeless individuals and companion animals is scarce. To date there are only five published studies, none of which explore this issue within a Canadian context or from the perspectives of women living in homeless shelters. The benefits of companion animals with respect to enhancing the psychological and physiological well-being of their owners have been well documented. This paper examines the nature of animal caretaking among female, homeless shelter residents in Canada. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 51 women from homeless shelters located in six urban centers across Canada (Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver) and two key informant interviews with homeless shelter administrators who facilitated space for animal companions. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using content analysis techniques. Homeless women described being comforted by companion animals and the pain of being forced to relinquish them. Most pet owners reported having to surrender a pet. Eight themes emerged regarding the role animals played in the lives of homeless women: (a) providing companionship, (b) unconditional acceptance, (c) providing comfort, (d) providing a sense of responsibility, (e) the health and therapeutic values of companion animals, (f) providing a sense of safety, (g) loss, as well as (h) empathy towards the homeless women sharing shelter space who may not share the affinity for animals or may have health consequences such as allergies. The majority of women supported shelter inclusion of companion animals, many suggesting a designated space for the animals that would accommodate the needs of those shelter residents who are allergic to, or fearful of animals, for example. Vulnerable women who are homeless recognize the therapeutic value of companion animals. Homeless shelters should consider the need to provide space to accommodate the animal companions of homeless individuals.
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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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Loneliness and negative health outcomes associated with being homeless and living on the streets. Qualitative data from 32 homeless youth, ages 16 to 23 years, who participated in focus groups, and a subsample of 10 youth, ages 15 to 23 years, who participated in individual interviews, were analyzed using manifest and content analysis, techniques. Homeless adolescents who live on the streets or in "squats" described feelings of loneliness that they say "go with the territory." Three themes emerged from the data: how lonely subjects felt, circumstances that provoked feelings of loneliness, and ways of coping with loneliness. Thirteen identified their pets as companions that provided unconditional love, reduced feelings of loneliness, and improved their health status. Vulnerable adolescents who are homeless often recognize the therapeutic value of pets. Interventions that enhance this coping strategy need to be developed and tested.
A Dog's Life. Homeless People and Their Pets
  • O Baker
Baker, O. 2001. A Dog's Life. Homeless People and Their Pets. Oxford: Blue Cross