Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 31, 2016

Panhandling with Dogs or Other Pets

Posted at 04:39PM - Comments: (55)

How do you feel about people who panhandle with a dog – or dogs, or a cat? I’m conflicted every time I see this.

On one hand, if I were ever homeless, you can be darn sure I’d have a dog with me. It seems like many dogs who live on the streets with their humans are some of the most unflappable, well-socialized dogs around. And I’d have to say that dogs who spend almost all of their time with their humans are likely to be far happier than well-fed dogs who sleep on cushy beds in climate-controlled homes but alone all day.

On the other hand, I worry that some people are using their pets as tools to elicit more sympathy, and thus more money, from passersby – that the pets are not truly loved or cared for, but simple tools for begging, and mistreated or neglected when their owners are not visible.

Panhandler with dog

photo by Dreamstime.com

There is a man who is homeless in my town who can commonly be found “working” at the foot of the highway off-ramp on the main road through town. He’s almost always accompanied by two large pit bull-mix dogs – except when he goes on a drinking binge, passes out in a public place, and is picked up by paramedics. When this happens, the dogs are taken by animal control officers or police (who know the dogs by name) to the local shelter. The dogs have spent so much time at the shelter that they are perfectly comfortable resting there until their owner gets out of the hospital, returns to the highway off-ramp, and raises money to pay the shelter’s fees.

Sometimes this takes a matter of hours, but sometimes it takes him weeks to return. In the meantime, at least, the dogs are well fed and safe, and have (over many visits) received vaccinations, deworming, flea prevention, and treatment for wounds. Shelter staffers can’t be blamed for being annoyed that the owner’s “Need $$ to get my dogs out of jail” sign is one of his most successful fund-raising campaigns – and that the shelter has received calls from people who have seen the guy and his sign and who are calling to scold the shelter for keeping the dogs “from” their owner.

I have to admit that seeing this guy’s dogs in the shelter so many times has hardened my heart a bit to seeing people with pets asking for money. But neither do I like my instinctive negative reaction.

Are you more likely to give money to panhandlers with pets?

Comments (55)

I am a homeless animal rights activist and I travel with a dog. The dog is a Pitbull that was in a kill shelter with a ton of other pitbulls. I chose to save the dogs life. I have no addictions and donít suffer mental illness. And I am not made of money. Because I travel the way I do, I am a little rugged. Lol. But the dog is taken care of and has food treats toys blanket and small bed Iím my pack. If someone were to see us and wanted to help, food and supplies would be the first thing I would want. Money means I have to tie her up and go in the store and leave her by herself. I would appreciate it and willing to carry it. There are good homeless people with animals that donít use them and abuse them...I donít use her for profit, some people just see us somewhere and choose to help. Donít be so quick to judge someoneís story...

Posted by: DavidAndmolly | December 7, 2017 9:44 AM    Report this comment

I always have canned dog food & treats in the car, in case of an emergency, water, and some kind of human snacks. I do not give money but I have offered food for both and bottled water.

Posted by: Kona's Mom | September 16, 2016 11:50 PM    Report this comment

Should a person have children if they're financially, physically, emotionally or mentally unable to care for them? I think not. So, the same would apply to pet ownership - homeless or not. America provides many venues for those in compromised situations to get back on their feet and become secure in their setting - then they can take on the responsibility of pet ownership.

Posted by: AnnaA | September 6, 2016 11:49 AM    Report this comment

Because I have spent almost a decade doing volunteer work with issues surrounding the unhoused, I would like to comment. First - look seriously, please, at who actually comprises the actual majority of "the homeless." It is NOT the mentally ill, and it is not alcoholics and/or drug addicts. Those three groups may be the most visible but I can assure you they do not make up the majority of homeless. Further, not all panhandlers are homeless (and vice versa). The actual majority of the unhoused population is nearly invisible and it is single mothers with children. More visible and a high percentage of homeless are veterans. And the third group is elderly who cannot afford the extortionate rents charged by greedy landlords. Second: many homeless keep dogs as a safety issue. Third: many homeless go without sustenance in order to feed their animals (and I include ferrets, cats, and small rodents in this group). Fourth: many homeless will not go to shelters in bad weather because the shelters will not accept their animals.

In my volunteer work I also have a blanket mission. I keep microfiber throws (buy whenever they are on sale) and if I see a person obviously down on their luck with a dog (especially an older person often with an old dog) I offer them a blanket for their dog. Microfiber is great because it dries quickly, you don't need to feed quarters to the local laundromat. It stays soft even when wet, and it doesn't harbor much in the way of odors and bacteria, and it's super lightweight but still provides some protection against cold hard sidewalks for the dog. Inside the rolled up throw I put an information card with local volunteer services specifically for pets of people with little or no income (in my area it's called Pro-Bone-O which offers spay/neuter, vaccinations, basic and sometimes more complex veterinary care); some of the humane groups offer free food for pets of low income. For example, in Portland, Oregon, there is the "Pongo Fund." Information on accessing help is a great thing to give a panhandler (or the derogatory appellation beggar).

Please do not ever make the thoughtless mistake of believing without analyzing any given homeless person's or panhandler's situation. Most do not choose street life, although some do. Most are there because in this society, if you do not have money you are considered to be less than human and worse than worthless.

Posted by: Sarahkate | September 5, 2016 11:29 AM    Report this comment

>On one hand, if I were ever homeless, you can be darn sure I'd have a dog with me.

Nancy, I don't know you, but from all that you've written, I wonder if this is true. If you haven't spent time with homeless people, then I would encourage you to do so, before making this statement.

Posted by: Jency | September 4, 2016 6:41 PM    Report this comment

>Are you more likely to give money to panhandlers with pets?

Yes, of course. To the extent that I give money in this way, I'll have a heart response to the presence of a dog in need.

This said, I know being homeless is a terrible situation for all involved (the person, and the dog). We shouldn't romanticize this. People who are homeless experience humiliation and violence. The gentleman in question (described in Nancy's blog) needs some serious and long-term resources, to help him deal with his chronic substance abuse, and to help him find a path that works better for him and his health.

I hate to say this, as I know it will be unpopular on this forum, but what this gentleman needs is not the responsibilities of a canine companion. What he needs is a human friend who can act as a true advocate for him, to help him find the resources he needs. "Should" he have a dog? Absolutely not, in my view. If one doesn't have the resources to consistently provide the basic needs that a pet requires (good food, water, shelter, and basic vet care, including heart-worm preventative), then one shouldn't have a pet. As a bonus, if one doesn't have funds for emergency vet care (e.g., frequent injuries, like a broken tooth, torn ACL, can lead to big vet bills), I would hope the owner has the social resources (friends, family), who can help out in such emergencies. Yes, being with one's person 24/7 is a great thing. If only all dogs enjoyed that. But if a dog has a broken tooth during that time, or a heart worm infection, it's in a living hell, despite the human friendship.
I'm sorry if this seems harsh, but I firmly believe this to be true: if you can't afford good care of your pet, you shouldn't have one. Anyone working with rescue groups, and interviewing prospective homes, knows that to be true.

Will I try to help support people, who have a pet, despite the fact that they don't have the resources to provide for the animal (and thus, in 20-20 hindsight, should not have a pet)? Certainly. I'll try to help support that person and the animal. I give dog food to homeless people with pets. I've given significant funds to neighbors who can't afford basic vet bills. But I'm under no illusion those individual actions are actually addressing the more systemic problem that our society is facing, in terms of extreme poverty.

I also want to note, it seems the only reason this gentleman's ownership of a dog is tenable, is the fact that the municipal shelter is exceptionally forgiving about his dogs' multiple entries into the shelter. It's great that the dog received health care (shots, flea preventatives) while in the shelter. This must be a well-funded tax district. I can say that, in my county's municipal shelter (which services an urban area with pervasive poverty), there is no way a dog would receive this type of periodic health care.

I think the situation described is exceptional, and probably only occurs in counties where the municipal shelter is well-funded. Without periodic visits to the shelter, this wouldn't work at all.

Posted by: Jency | September 4, 2016 6:31 PM    Report this comment

I'm not entirely sure where I stand on this subject. On the one hand, as many people have said, if the pet is treated well and its needs are being met, then I think it's great for the person and also great for the animal who might otherwise be in a kill shelter or worse. However, as others have also said, my concern is that if there is addiction or a mental illness that needs to be addressed, perhaps the human isn't caring for the pet properly, and that I have a huge issue with. Animals are meant to be our companions. They are also meant to be treated with respect, dignity, and given the best care we can give them. If an animal is not with a person who is capable of doing that, then they shouldn't be with that person, (and that goes for the non-homeless as well). Ultimately, I don't know how a person who's not able to care for themselves properly would be able to meet the criteria of caring for a pet properly.

Posted by: Kim M. | September 3, 2016 11:36 AM    Report this comment

I live in northern CA, and our winters are pretty mild, which, along with the high cost of housing, unemployment, the lack of mental health resources, and drug addiction, creates a large homeless population. Our community has good resources for the true "homeless mentally ill", who qualify for social security disability and housing thru grants and government programs. That is, for the ones who can stay in one place long enough, and are able/willing to cooperate with the agencies to get assistance.

There are really different types of homeless, however. One type of the homeless are drug addicts who roam around and live in homeless encampments, or couch surf. As other posters have noted, alcohol is a drug. Our community strongly encourages people to give to programs instead of the homeless, and their position is that giving money is basically enabling the problem. While I agree with that view, I do on occasion give money. Some enlightened communities do have programs for homeless with pets, but they are limited. It can be prettry hard for any renter to find housing with pets.

Maybe my age is showing (62), but it seems to me that people put the cart before the horse.....get a job and housing before getting a pet. Yeah, maybe it is hard (life is). But it is sobering how many immigrants come here with nothing and end up owning businesses due to hard work, and their willingness to work at jobs many would turn down.

On the other hand, poor people seemed to have housing when I was young, even tho it may have been sub-standard, or undesirable. I wonder if over-regulation is at least partly responsible for modern homelessness. I suspect that any community, like a college town, with expensive, scarce housing and high unemployment is going to have many homeless.

An interesting book about a guy from Austin who became homeless when he lost his job, and couldn't find affordable housing with his dog is called Travels with Lizbeth, by Lars Eighner.

Posted by: hilfri | September 2, 2016 7:13 PM    Report this comment

For the longest time, I always thought that homeless people shouldn't have pets; lets face, if they can't care for themselves then how could they care for a pet? But then I attended a "Mini Vet Series" in Ottawa, a set of lectures that was a fundraiser to help these people and one of the lectures was actually about homeless people with pets. For me this lecture was paradigm shift. I now see the pets as being an essential part of that person's life. It is the one true companion, the one that doesn't betray, the confidant, the unconditional love and essential the center of that homeless person's world. That person will go without so that their pet can have what they need; the pet also keeps them out of trouble because if they end up in prison, then their best friend will likely end up being killed. And the life that the dog has isn't a terrible one. They have plenty of mental stimulation with their daily travels, they are fed, watered and loved. They share slipping quarters with their person and they have that true pack feeling because they are together 24/7. And this "Mini Vet Series" fundraiser was started so that veterinarians can offer their services to the homeless people's pets and they do incredible work. I don't know how many cities have these programs but after that lecture, I felt my payment for the series was one of the best spent dollars I have invested in. That money all goes to help these pets and I walk away much wiser than I was before.

I am now happy to offer money to a panhandler that has a dog that appears to be loved and well cared for because I now know how important that animal really is to them and what that dog does to keep that panhandler honest and comforted.

Posted by: Kimbers63 | September 2, 2016 2:10 PM    Report this comment

Many of the homeless panhandlers can't help their situation. Try to look through their dogs or cats eyes and through the homeless persons eyes. The shelters in my area and other areas are so overcrowded. That most animals brought into the shelters would be destroyed. He or she the (panhandler)is saving this animals life. Many homeless people can't get the help they need for many of the medical funds are only for the people having children in tow. Even so sometimes that is hard. Here in the u.s we do not give free medical. Yes their are a few program out their but so many people need the help desperately and by the time they are in line for help they are turned away with hundreds others. Many people have some kind of mental issues which have never been addressed when they were younger for many different reason. One being they do not have the funds. Have you ever stayed in a homeless shelter? For the men? Well it is not a nice place you are beat up for a pair of pants, a back pack,any food, anything someone might want . In the homless shelter you get a bed and a meal if their is room for the night if you are lucky. And if you are really lucky you dont get beat up.A lot of these men want a different way of life but due to their upbringing,mental health among just two examples and have no idea how to live a better life how to get the help that they need. Living on the streets are a little safer esp. With a dog these men need our help.I believe if we would walk one mile or even tw more in someone's shoes we would be more compassionate. The drinking part? They want to try to self medicate. Again many are hurting in so many ways....I would help anyone one in need on the streets. We as Gods children must help those in need. Love is what life is all about. Let's all try to do what our savior ,Jesus would do. This earth would be such a better place. Love to all Cheryl

Posted by: Chey | September 2, 2016 11:49 AM    Report this comment

It is a free world and as long as they don't commit a crime they have the right to be where they want to be, with or without a dog. If I have cash with me, I give them some, no matter if they have a dog or not.
Our shelter supports the homeless' dogs. They provide food and vet care. It makes me happy to see that a homeless person has at least a dog with him/her. They provide companionship, comfort and safety. They are the best socialized dogs around; they never seem to cause trouble with people or other dogs and just as their humans, keep to themselves. My dog would be the last "thing" for me to give up in life.

Posted by: Wolfy | September 2, 2016 10:02 AM    Report this comment

My heart feels for them, I have worked with animals, always for 40+ years in privileges areas, those owners on ocassions are less responsible and sensitive than the homeless, who most times adore their dogs, yes they don't have luxurious accommodations, ac, gourmet food, but.....do the dog know that difference? NO! all my dogs want is to be with me, and the street panhandle spend all its time with Their mascot, instead judging, we should became proactive creating neighborhood pet food pantries, and handout to them, we can't fix it, but we can help it,

Posted by: Vidlevee | September 2, 2016 7:44 AM    Report this comment

Yes because here in Toronto, homeless people with dogs only have one shelter option and it is often full. There is an excellent documentary called a Dogs Life produced by Helen Choquette (I can't link to it here) about how most homeless spend their money on their dogs first. If you ever have a chance to watch this, you absolutely should.

Posted by: Monisa | September 2, 2016 5:54 AM    Report this comment

I have watched the homeless digging through garbage cans for scraps of food. One thing happens every time. The dog gets the first bite. I can't imagine being alone, cold and afraid on the streets without the love and comfort of a dog. For one, just look at the picture to this article. Love and trust; true best friends. They won't find a human to share that strong bond let alone trust. Unless there is any obvious signs of abuse, I will always support the homeless to be with their animals. Supply dog food to homeless shelters or direct to the person.

Posted by: Fordamutz | September 1, 2016 11:58 PM    Report this comment

A well mannered person accompanied by a well mannered dog will almost always elicit $5 and a tear.

Posted by: Delta | September 1, 2016 10:12 PM    Report this comment

The problem with homelessness is the homeless lack a home. Seems like a simple deduction but too many can't seem to grasp this simple fact. Many of our political leaders can't seem to find the money to help the homeless turn their lives around and find a home, even if only a room with a cot, but can find tons of money for newly arriving refugees, to date, at 25K a person. Something is very wrong with this picture. Imagine what that 25K could do for the American homeless person and his/her pet?

Posted by: Anamandy | September 1, 2016 9:21 PM    Report this comment

And, I also totally agree with ShiTzuMom.

Posted by: tmatt | September 1, 2016 9:02 PM    Report this comment

It is very heartening to see all the non judgmental comments here! I always knew dog people have more compassion.
It is easy to judge someone's situation from a first glance, but rarely do we have enough information to make such judgements, and even then, what good does it do; to help would be so much more productive.
I would hazard to guess that there are many more pets with non homeless people that are alcoholics, addicts, abusive, etc; are these pets better off?
I'm thinking a little more thoughtful help and compassion will go a lot further than a snap judgement and condemnation.

Posted by: tmatt | September 1, 2016 8:54 PM    Report this comment

I will give money with or without pets but always try to stop and say a few words. When you talk to a homeless person about their dog they simply beam! Remember that shelters do not accept pets so these people chose not to go to shelters to stay with their pets!
I have learned that we never can tell how a person ended up where they are. We also have a group that helps homeless people with pet food and supplies for them and the pets by bringing to drop off points because not everyone can make to the shelter pantry....
My philosophy is that if someone is willing to sit and panhandle in all kinds of weather (when they could collect a well fare check) then I can give them a buck or two. Will not change my life much but who knows what it will do to theirs....

Posted by: 4OntheFloor | September 1, 2016 8:16 PM    Report this comment

Dear NYCDogLover, I get the plain burger with cheese - no relish, mayo etc. I feed my dogs better than I FEED ME but I am realistic when I offer food to marginalized folks with a companion animal .. their dog probably eats what they eat and a change in food can cause gastro problems .. I was living in a shelter once .. with 4 sons and one who cried over his cat. I went on to work in the field as a social worker and many un-housed folks were on my case load. Treat people with dignity and they will rise to that level of expectation. They lost so much - their animals are often the last thing .. I don't judge, I just feed. M.

Posted by: MacClavey | September 1, 2016 7:30 PM    Report this comment

We have a big drug problem in our state, so with or without dogs I never give money to panhandlers. I do carry large cans of hefty soups & stews with flip tops in my car which I happily give out to panhandlers. You can often tell by their reaction to the gift of food whether they are really in need. If these people were only given food for themselves and their pets and not money, perhaps it would reduce their ability to buy drugs and alcohol while still offering them help.

Posted by: Longhairs | September 1, 2016 6:24 PM    Report this comment

I have worked with the companion animals of the homeless to provide vet care, routine spay/neuter/ and preventative wellness- through www.vetsos.org and www.pawfund.org for 16 years.
Most homeless individuals take very good care of their dogs/cats/pet rats whenever they can- and they did not acquire these animals to help them panhandle. Often they had them when they became homeless. I met a woman with a PhD. living in her car with her 2 dogs.

My homeless clients and I were interviewed by Dr. Leslie Irvine as part of her book research for :
Her book on this topic is "My Dog Always Eats First" (by Dr. Leslie Irvine.)


This book speaks for itself.
The dogs of homeless individuals provide unconditional companionship, love, a sense of responsibility, safety, and also act as a social outlet- as more people are inclined to stop and talk with a homeless individual if they are with an animal.

I would never give money to anyone- but often carry extra dog food, treats, or leashes/collars with me in my car. Or- if I am going into a store- I offer to bring out food for the person or pet supplies if needed. And I always refer them to VET SOS (in SF) or Paw Fund (in the East Bay).

Please do not assume homeless individuals are panhandling with a dog to tug on heart strings. These dogs are their family. I have had a client tell me that a person offered to give him $5,000 to give them his dog. He declined, and then they upped the offer to $10k and he told them to leave him alone- that his dog was his only family.

This is my experience.

Posted by: welladjustedpet | September 1, 2016 6:22 PM    Report this comment

I am not really conflicted, because I don't give them money. I will, however, give them a small bag of dog food or treats. I guess I just like animals better than people!

Posted by: Randorita | September 1, 2016 5:42 PM    Report this comment

I'm conflicted. If a person is homeless, they are usually all alone. Dogs are wonderful companions and can offer some protection. Plus, if the dog was a stray, the homeless man offers some protection and companionship for the stray dog--as homeless dogs are abused just like homeless people are often abused. Therefore, they can offer one another some comfort and protection--just as humans and dogs have always given one another. To the person who buys McDonald's hamburgers for the dogs--be sure they don't have onions on them when you order. Today, more and more people are homeless, with most of us only a paycheck or two away from that same situation. I surely would not give up my dog if I lost my home. Today, you can go for two years without a job once you are laid off and how many people have two years worth of emergency savings?
If the dog is being abused, the dog should be taken away from the homeless person. Actually, neither dog or human should be living on the street. That is the main problem--not the fact that a human who is down on his or her luck--has a pet.

Posted by: NYCDogLover | September 1, 2016 5:37 PM    Report this comment

I live in a rural area just short of the Canadian border and the homeless are not generally visible. I donate to organizations that help them and try to make sure that, if they have dogs (or cats or ferrets or rabbits), their pets are also taken care of.
When I go to one of the "big cities", I try to make sure I have canned roast beef hash or equivalent, a spoon and a can opener in a bag to be shared. After reading Rosco's comment about the friend who carries baggies with necessities of daily living, I will add those.

Posted by: peppersmum | September 1, 2016 4:56 PM    Report this comment

Alcohol withdrawal is the only withdrawal that can kill you. I give money and if they buy a pint to stop the seizures that's not my business. I buy the dog what I give the person who is un-housed ... a few burgers off the McDonald menu as the dog is more inclined to have been eating that anyway. .. most can find water and use plastic bags to fill up for their dogs to drink out of. May I never judge and if I can't give with no judgments, may I never suffer the fate of those I find wanting. Maggie, owner of a GSD and poodle mix.

Posted by: MacClavey | September 1, 2016 4:56 PM    Report this comment

"There but for the grace of God go I." Thank you SadieSue. It's exactly what I thought but didn't write. People are so quick to judge from the comfort of their own homes or cars. And yet so many are only a paycheck or two from being in the same place.

Posted by: GiftofGalway | September 1, 2016 4:28 PM    Report this comment

I give them dogfood.

Posted by: Raquel | September 1, 2016 4:10 PM    Report this comment

If I see them and I am able I give them pet food instead of money. That way I hope the animal is fed.

Posted by: Knyles | September 1, 2016 2:02 PM    Report this comment

Thanks to 20 years of "free trade" treaties, millions of american jobs have gone overseas to countries that pay slave wages. This results in millions of homeless people here. There are not enough jobs for everyone. ut human beings have a funny way of keeping themselves from feeling bad. It's called blaming the victim. Blaming the victim relieves the blamer of any feelings of responsibility to help. It gives the blamer an outlet to vent the uncomfortable feelings that the distressed person's situation causes the blamer to feel. Blaming the victim helps protect the blamer from depression.

It's funny, but after people have been through a traumatic event themselves, many more of them no longer engage in victim blaming but have more of an attitude of "there but for the grace of God, go I."

Practically, from the dog's point of view, if no homeless people kept dogs, where would those dogs go? There are not enough homes for all the dogs currently in our country. Most of those dogs would go to a pound and get killed. Is living on the streets worse than that? I guess it depends on the owner and the community support.

From the bystander's point of view, I think homeless people with dogs are much less likely to commit crimes. Just like communities that build "tiny houses" and house all of their homeless, crime drops whenever people have something (or someone) in their lives that gives them comfort and gives their struggles meaning. I think dogs give humans comfort--often better than other humans! Witness the women who do better on a math test when their dog is in the room with them, rather than being alone in the room or with their best friend. The women do the worst on the math test when their male partner is sitting in the room.

Posted by: SadieSue | September 1, 2016 1:45 PM    Report this comment

I'll always help a homeless man's best friend. I don't think we should make judgement based on some exceptional cases.

Posted by: Xiaoyi | September 1, 2016 1:32 PM    Report this comment

I agree money is not the perfect answer. My friend keeps several large baggies in her car filled with a toothbrush/paste, jerky, handwipes, travel size hand cleaner, freebee soap, shampoo etc from hotels etc. Also a baggie filled with dog food to hand out to people that come to her car "pan handling". They get the dog food baggie if they have a pet.

Posted by: Rosco%26Hank | September 1, 2016 12:54 PM    Report this comment

The post makes it sound like the guy goes on a drinking binge just so he can get his dogs into a shelter and get free food, shots, etc. for them. I think that's very cold. Obviously, he has a drug problem (alcohol is a drug). It's a mental health issue, not something he does deliberately. And if he's using the dogs as a "tool for begging," wouldn't he rather have them with him to do so, instead of having to beg for help to get them out of the shelter? I don't think the post is about donating to a panhandler. It's about how do we feel about street people who own dogs. When I see them, my first thought is that I hope no one takes them away from him.

Posted by: GiftofGalway | September 1, 2016 12:43 PM    Report this comment

No one answer here. The situation is so sad. I basically feel that if the animal is calm I don't suspect any overt neglect or abuse. If the animal is jumpy, nervous and skittish then I would have concern that either the environment (the streets) or the animal's owner is abusive. But to deny someone who is clearly forgotten by society, not stable, or just down on their luck the companionship and love from their dog...well that would be just wrong! Be generous as your heart leads you.

Posted by: SharonK | September 1, 2016 12:41 PM    Report this comment

I manage a program in the shelter where I work that does outreach to folks with pets who are outside, marginally homed, or in general financial distress. It is run on donations, grants, and in-kind gifts from our community. Pet owners are forced to make very difficult choices when they are in crisis themselves. We do what we can to support them in caring for their pets, while working in partnership with human services programs such as Second Harvest.


A good book on this topic is "My Dog Always Eats First" by Leslie Irvine.


Posted by: doglogic | September 1, 2016 12:30 PM    Report this comment

The first rescue I adopted 20 years ago was given up by a (working) homeless man that was living in his car with his dog. He couldn't take the dog to a shelter and couldn't find an apartment where he could take his dog, so he finally gave him up to rescue. That was a very heartbreaking situation. A lot of people panhandling with their dogs may also have nowhere to go and have opted to stay on the street, rather than give up their dogs to find shelter for themselves. Very sad :(

Posted by: gldluv | September 1, 2016 12:10 PM    Report this comment

I never give money to panhandlers, with or without dogs. I do donate to a great shelter for the homeless in our town.

Posted by: KLW | September 1, 2016 12:06 PM    Report this comment

I agree. I need my dog just as much as she needs me. I'm sure this man does too.

Posted by: Sis C | September 1, 2016 11:36 AM    Report this comment

Yes I do give money to homeless man with dogs. I also ask if the dog is spayed or neutered, if not, I ask if they want to do it. If they agree, I make the appt and them give them a ride to and from the vet. I also ask if they want to microchip.

Posted by: Hershey | September 1, 2016 11:03 AM    Report this comment

I don't understand how someone can buy stuff for the dog and feel sympathy for the dog and not do the same for the human. Rather then assume the human is a scam artist, assume they truly are in need, and then elevate them in your mind because while they are in need, they are also trying to love and care for another being. If you can, stop and but them both something to eat - a hot dog, a burger, a chicken sandwich. They might not be the best food for either, but at least they both get something. Give them a few bucks, the price of a coffee and donut - you won't miss the money, and they can use it. Tell them you feel for them, and that you admire them for finding, loving, and caring for their pet. Then go home and hug your own pet.

Posted by: MrNornef | September 1, 2016 10:57 AM    Report this comment

I usually give more money to a homeless person with a dog and I tell them it's for the dog. I have also spayed 3 to 4 of the homeless people dogs. When I see a homeless person with a dog, My first ask if the dogs is fixed, if they say no than I asks if they want the dog fixed. If they I agree, I set up the appt, take the owner and dog to the vet for surgery. I also give option to have them microchipped.

Posted by: Hershey | September 1, 2016 10:53 AM    Report this comment

BRAVO to the 1st comment on the blog by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie. Great questions she raised - knowing that my knee-jerk reaction would be to assist a person pan-handling with an animal(s).

Posted by: kccasanova | September 1, 2016 10:40 AM    Report this comment

I always have problems with posts like this. No matter how compassionately they are written, as this one certainly was, they generally attract judgmental comments that tie me in knots. Mental Health awareness has a l-o-n-g way to go, especially in entitled America, but something is seriously wrong with the human race that we can feel empathy for the dog but not the man. Why are we not all pulled to rescue them BOTH?

While its true that you can't help those who aren't willing to accept help (for *any* reason), I have to wonder about the mental health of those who are fortunate enough to stay off the street and choose judgment over compassion - and it IS a choice. Is empathy for a human being living on the street for *any* reason so uncomfortable that they won't let themselves even feel it -- especially if there's nothing they can afford to do to help?
xx, mgh
(Madelyn Griffith-Haynie - ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
- ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder -
"It takes a village to transform a world!"

Posted by: ShihTzuMom | September 1, 2016 10:31 AM    Report this comment

There are a few panhandlers with dogs in front of target. I always buy a bag of goodies for the dog but not the human.

Posted by: Staceysimi | September 1, 2016 10:14 AM    Report this comment

If I were homeless with my dog what would I do with a big bag of dog food? Not carry it around with me. Besides, a street dog isn't accustomed to eating manufactured dog food. There are no good answers. We need better care for humans and pets on the street. Sadly, in this country even if you have a job you can't get proper care 😢

Posted by: mothgypsy | September 1, 2016 10:13 AM    Report this comment

I have noticed something reading these comments. The ones stating they don't give to 'beggars' have said this in shouty capitals?

Posted by: Deb5h | September 1, 2016 10:11 AM    Report this comment

I was driving tractor/trailers for a while, and saw a man in the desert S.W. (not sure where I was at the time!) digging through trash early in the 30 degree morning. I DO NOT contribute to beggars, but this guy was feeding his scraggly tail wagging companion. I grabbed my bag of loose change and jumped out startling the man.
I told him to get himself something hot and something for his dog.
He looked at me like no one had ever done that. I wouldn't have except I could see he loved his dog!

Posted by: wolfie59 | September 1, 2016 9:50 AM    Report this comment

I too, will not give any money. The last panhandler I saw with a dog, I gave a big bag of food to the dog. It was right outside of a Wal-Mart. Although the guy seemed appreciative, I could tell he wasn't thrilled I did it that way I figured he could fend for himself, while the dog couldn't. I just wasn't sure how he'd carry it with all his other packs.

Posted by: lyndah2000 | September 1, 2016 9:49 AM    Report this comment

I always give to them, more so and make a point to even drive back around on opposite side of street if they have a dog so I can give food for the dog/bone treats/bowl/leash that I buy and replace every time I give out, always give cash to person but more food for dogs, these pets are innocent and I feel so sad for them...i pray one day to have my own shelter, to welcome "All Paws Welcomed"

Posted by: Bogus | September 1, 2016 9:46 AM    Report this comment

I carry dog food in my trunk all the time. When I open a bag of kibble for my dogs, I always scoop up a large freezer ziplock bag and put it in my trunk. Any time I see a homeless person with a dog, I give them a bag. I don't care what their humans do. Obviously they care enough for the animal to keep it around. And the animal needs to eat.
I used to keep canned food in the trunk, because it stays fresh longer, but then I saw the guy I gave it to for his little pitbull sit under a tree sharing the can with the dog. One spoon for me, one spoon for you ... I am more prone to support the dogs, so I am on the fence with canned goods... probably would make more sense to feed them both with a can?

Posted by: LizWolf | September 1, 2016 9:33 AM    Report this comment

I give to individuals (although I also appreciate the rationale of people who don't), but I also donate to Pets of the Homeless (petsofthehomeless.org), a support organization that provides food, veterinary care, etc. I checked out their federal 990 form on Charity Navigator and virtually all donations go to their program work - not fundraising or admin. Check them out!

Posted by: ScotnDox | September 1, 2016 9:32 AM    Report this comment

I have gone into a store bought dog food and water and taken it back to the panhandlers. They were very grateful.

Posted by: pap luv | September 1, 2016 9:21 AM    Report this comment

This happened to me last night, a young man who looked like a tourist with his leashed dog, asked for money to feed his dog. Both looked well-fed. I will always feel torn about this sort of thing. But if I saw a dog with a homeless person who looked malnourished, I would bring dog food back to the location rather than giving money.

Posted by: westielover | September 1, 2016 9:16 AM    Report this comment

My heart is torn about this issue. On one hand, I understand the panhandler's need for a loyal friend when most people (from the panhandler's perspective) can't be trusted. However, I worry for the wellbeing of the dog -- are they healthy, are they fed? How much of the money goes to their care? When times are tough and frustration builds, what's the trickle-down effect towards the animal?
I don't like to give money -- I will buy the panhandler a coffee, a muffin, and when there are pets, something for them -- I would rather spend the money to help them and know where the money is going.

Posted by: LoveGSDs | September 1, 2016 9:15 AM    Report this comment

Nope. Don't give money to ANY panhandlers. But I have been known to go buy dog food and bring it back, along with a container of water and a dog bowl.

Posted by: AlwaysTraining | September 1, 2016 9:13 AM    Report this comment

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