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The unbreakable bond: The mental health benefits and challenges of pet ownership for people experiencing homelessness

journal contribution
posted on 30.08.2021, 02:55 by Michelle L Cleary, Sancia West, Denis Visentin, Monique Phipps, Mark Westman, Kristina Vesk, Rachel Kornhaber
Pet ownership provides a unique relationship that is beneficial to many aspects of the pet owner’s life, including mental health and companionship. Mental health and social isolation are negatively impacted by homelessness, increasing the importance of the owner-pet bond during this time. However, this relationship is complicated by the need for pet owners to urgently find accommodation for themselves while still caring for their pets. This paper explores two firsthand narratives of the relationship between a person and their pets during a period of homelessness and subsequent search for accommodation. Both narratives highlight important aspects of the emotional bond between owner and pet: the concept of choosing pet over place; improved mental health and changed behaviours; and stressors or negative emotions of parental concern, separation anxiety and grief. These narratives emphasise the importance of supporting, expanding and creating new pet-friendly crisis and permanent accommodation options for pet owners experiencing homelessness.

History

Volume

42

Issue

8

Start Page

741

End Page

746

Number of Pages

6

eISSN

1096-4673

ISSN

0161-2840

Location

England

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Language

eng

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

No

External Author Affiliations

Cat Protection Society of NSW; University of Sydney; University of Tasmania

Era Eligible

Yes

Medium

Print-Electronic

Journal

Issues in Mental Health Nursing