Down and Out in Las Vegas.
I recall once, years ago, seeing a homeless man with a dog. I felt a bit angry that this man was using an innocent dog in order to get more money. I’m happy to say that I am more socially aware now, and realize that the homeless see their animals as companions and more, as family.
I've learned that my response back then was not so unusual. Many people feel that homeless people with pets are being selfish and that they shouldn’t have a pet if they can’t even take care of themselves.
In fact, these animals are a lifeline to the homeless, who will often go without food to feed their pets. In many cases, the pet has become homeless along with the person. In other instances, homeless people take in street animals, often saving them from abuse or euthanasia.
Pets also serve as a key form of protection — particularly for women, who make up roughly one-third of America's homeless population, and many of whom took to the streets to escape domestic abuse.
The statistics on the homeless and their pets are a bit staggering.
- Homeless pets outnumber homeless people 5 to 1.
- There are close to 600,000 people who are homeless on any given night, according to a study performed by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
- It is estimated that approximately 3.5 million will experience homelessness in a given year.
- Pet owners are estimated to be anywhere from 10% to 25% of the total homeless population, depending on location, and many have more than one pet.
- Las Vegas has the 4th largest homeless population in the United States.
The State of Nevada Housing Devision in 2015 commissioned the SOUTHERN NEVADA HOMELESS CENSUS & SURVEY. While this was very comprehensive regarding the homeless in Southern Nevada, there was nothing in it about animals. However, the same general statistics above apply. Some statistics from that report follow:
- In 2015, there were over 34,000 homeless in Southern Nevada.
- At a Point in Time count taken on January 28, 2015, 7,509 homeless were counted.
For many, thankfully, homelessness is a temporary situation, but for all of them — including their pets — any help they can get is a blessing. Urban Underdogs is one of a handful of non-profit organizations in Las Vegas who focus on providing food for homeless pets and all underserved companion animals in them Las Vegas valley. You can help! Just click on our Donation link or contact us if you would like to donate food or other goods by selecting the Contact US link at the top of our website.