Effects of Companion Animal Ownership on Street-Involved Youth

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Published in the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare,  December 2013, Volume XL, Number 4   In Canada, approximately 150,000 youth are homeless on any given night, and many have companion animals. Through a series of semi-structured interviews, this qualitative study explored the issues and effects of companion animal ownership among street-involved youth from the perspective of the youth themselves. “Pet before self” was the substantive theme, with first level sub-themes of “physical” and “emotional” effects. Previously unidentified findings include benefits of having a companion animal, such as creating structure and routine and decreasing use of drugs. Loss of the companion animal was a negative effect. Youth consistently reported making choices to stay with their animal regardless of liabilities for their own health or success. Service providers should understand and support the significant human–animal bond that can exist for these homeless youth. Read More

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