Dilemmas associated with rehousing homeless people who have companion animals

Singer RS, Hart LA, Zasloff RL
Psychological Reports 77:851-857

66 individuals were given a questionnaire during the initial visit to a veterinary clinic for homeless pet owners. Among the 35 men and 31 women, 32 had been homeless for 6 mo. or less and were termed the acutely homeless subgroup, and 34 had been homeless multiple times or for more than 6 mo. and were termed the chronically homeless subgroup. In responding to the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale, both men and women participants had significantly higher mean scores on attachment to their pets than did the scale’s standardization population. Participants did not differ from the normative sample of adults on the Beck Hopelessness Scale. Both men and women participants stated a preference for being rehoused. 93% of men and 96% of women said that housing would not be acceptable if pets were not allowed. 61% of the men and 33% of the women stated they would be willing to live anywhere pets were allowed except in a shelter. Reluctance to live in a shelter was significantly greater among chronically homeless men than other subgroups, and they also had low desire to be rehoused. A majority of the participants had been refused housing because they had pets. Attempts to rehouse homeless individuals who have pets are likely to be unsuccessful unless accommodation for pets is included.