Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day '08: Poverty

Given the current economic crisis here in the States, the topic of poverty is even more timely than it was a month and a half ago. I have toyed with many different ideas about what to post. I wanted to post something that combined the issue with my passion, dogs.

In the U.S. a country considered to be wealthy by many other countries' standards, 12% of our population lives below the poverty level. What does that mean?

12% of our population exists on an annual salary of $10,400 or less. Hmmm...pretty tough to fancy owning an animal of any sort on that amount of cash - isn't it?

Due to the current economic and sub-prime loan crises, the HSUS has started a Foreclosure Pets Grant Fund - one of the programs this fund supports is a Pet Food Pantry. My hope is that after the U.S. economy rebounds people continue to support such endeavors - it is one way we can help keep animals out of shelters in the long term.

Another organization in the U.S. that deals with animals and their owners living below the poverty line is Pets of the Homeless. This organization is based in Nevada. Their web site lists both businesses and food banks nationwide that do work with the homeless and their pets.

It is estimated by the National Coalition for the Homeless that between 5% to 10% of homeless people have dogs and/or cats. In some areas of the country the rate is as high as 24%. Most people who experience homelessness are homeless for a short period of time, and usually need help finding housing or a rent subsidy. But unfortunately for those with pets it becomes more difficult. Many are forced to choose between their pet or a roof over their head. Surprisingly, most choose to stay on the streets with their pets for longer periods of time. Their pets are nonjudgmental, providing comfort, an emotional bond of loyalty. In some cases they provide the homeless with protection and keep them warm. The tragic part is that the pets of the homeless do not choose their owners.

Internationally an organization that does wonderful work is Heifer International. Their tag line is "Charitable gifts that make a difference." For as little as $20 dollars you can provide a family with flock of chicks that can then go on to produce up to 200 eggs a year. This microenterprise is a way to help a family feed themselves on a more long-term basis. I have made donations in my niece and nephews names in years past; it is a wonderful way to help affect change in countries near and far.

Animals and poverty.....

There are the animals that might be placed in a shelter when their family experiences difficult financial times; the animals that are homeless with their homeless owners and provide a comfort no food or physical comfort can; and the animals that can play a huge role in helping to actually sustain a family.

Food for thought.


Last year's topic was the environment. Keeping with my theme I wrote about biodegradable poop bags!


Katrin said...

Very interesting. As someone who is below the fed pov. level of income, but has lots of family support, I know it would be impossible for me to have 4 dogs without my family helping. But at the same time I'd be a lot worse off without my dogs so they are rather necessary for me.

Having had to make some choices as of late regarding feeding my dogs and certain non-routine vet care due to finances, I can see how the economy impacts how we care for our dogs as well.

Jules said...

Exactly! And the benefit of having pets is not something that is well tracked or appreciated as much as it could be.