There is no definitive answer – How Many Homeless People in the U.S. have a Dog? – because it is difficult to count and track this population accurately. However, some studies and surveys have provided estimates.

According to a 2019 National Coalition for the Homeless surveyabout 25% of homeless people in the United States have a pet, with the Dog being the most common pet for homeless people.

The official U.S. government estimate is that there are approximately 580,000 homeless people. This estimate is from 2020 – before the pandemic began.

This estimate means – that there are likely tens of thousands of homeless people in the U.S. with dogs.

The main reasons homeless people have dogs are shelter, companionship, comfort, life drive, and social contact with people. Dogs positively impact mental health and have been shown to reduce crime rates and drug and alcohol abuse among homeless people.

Dogs Give Meaning to Life

Imagine having a loyal companion who gives your life a new sense of purpose and brings you unconditional love. That’s the experience of homeless individuals who are proud pet owners, despite the challenges they face.

In touching interviews, they share how their furry friends inspire them to keep going. Even when hunger and cold threaten, they rise to the challenge of caring for their four-legged companions.

One inspiring story comes from a homeless person who fasted for two days, giving up his own food to ensure his dog was well-fed. In fact, owning a dog can even help homeless individuals stay away from harmful substances, like drugs and alcohol.

Research shows that homeless people often credit their pets with saving their lives. They overcome addiction and other challenges to provide their furry friends with the best possible care. In the end, it’s a small price to pay for the joy and companionship that a faithful dog can bring.


Homeless people usually own a dog because it gives life meaning to take care of a dog!

Driven by caring and a sense of responsibility, homeless people are therefore focused on finding food and a warm place to sleep.

Read also: Why Is My Dog Making Choking Sounds?

Crime Among Homeless Decreases with Having a Dog

There’s no denying the incredible bond between humans and their furry best friends. But did you know that having a dog can actually help reduce crime among homeless individuals?

Studies show that dogs serve as a powerful deterrent, discouraging their owners from using drugs and alcohol or associating with criminals. In fact, many homeless individuals credit their pets with helping them stay on the right path.

The fear of being separated from their loyal companion is a powerful motivator. Homeless Dog Owners know that they would have to give up their dog – if they were incarcerated, which often motivates them to avoid situations that could lead to trouble with the law.

Unfortunately – many homeless shelters in the U.S. do not allow dogs. Thus, homeless dog owners strictly refuse shelter accommodation, preferring the street. “Without a dog, without me!”


The crime rate, contact with criminals, and alcohol and drug abuse decrease when homeless persons have a dog. This is often due to the fear of having to give up their dog.

A Dogs Offer Comfort to the Homeless

For many homeless individuals, their furry companions provide an irreplaceable source of comfort and support.

Some Studies have shown that dogs are highly empathetic – They respond to their owners needs with love and compassion. These loyal creatures offer warmth and security without judgment, creating a sense of stability that can be especially valuable for those experiencing homelessness.

Dog offers comfort to homeless

In situations where family connections may be difficult or nonexistent, the comfort provided by a dog can be truly life-changing. When feelings of sadness or loneliness arise, the empathy of a furry friend can be a powerful balm for the soul.

It’s no wonder that dogs are cherished by so many in the homeless community. Dogs are a true source of “Joy and Companionship”, and offer unconditional love and support to those who need it most.


Dogs are extremely compassionate and provide comfort in difficult life situations. Thus, Having a Dog provides comfort and emotional stability for the homeless.

Dogs Satisfy the Need for Companionship

We all need human relationships to thrive. But did you know that companionship is just as important as basic needs like food for many homeless people?

Caring for others is a fundamental part of the human life experience – homeless dog owners are no exception. In addition, the joy and a sense of purpose from owning a dog are genuinely transformative.

It’s not a Secret: Loneliness can seriously affect the mental health and make us feel disconnected from the world around us. But with a furry friend by their side, homeless people can develop a sense of connection and purpose that truly changes their lives.

The Ownership of a Dog has been shown to improve self-image and self-esteem among homeless people and even promote mental health. One study found that 74% of dog owners said their mental health had improved due to their furry companion.

For Homeless Dog Owners, their pets are much more than companions – they’re a lifeline, giving them the love and support they need to keep going day after day.


Dogs are unconditionally loyal to their owners and do not judge. Thus, they provide companionship and strengthen the purpose of life of homeless people.

Read also: Gagging without Vomiting in Dogs: What You Need to Know and How to Help

Dogs Provide Protection for the Homeless

Life on the streets can be incredibly challenging, especially for women and those with disabilities. But even for male homeless individuals, the dangers are real. That’s why a furry companion can be such a powerful ally.

Dogs offer a sense of safety and security for their owners, protecting them from violence and discrimination at the hands of strangers or other homeless individuals. They also provide a valuable defense against theft, acting as vigilant guardians throughout the night.

For homeless individuals, having a dog by their side can make all the difference in staying safe and secure on the streets. These loyal companions provide much-needed protection and support, helping their owners navigate life’s challenges without a permanent home.


Dogs offer their homeless owners shelter and protection from a range of threats on the street – including violence and theft.

With a furry companion by their side – homeless individuals can feel more secure and less vulnerable to harm from other homeless people or strangers.

Dogs have a keen sense of awareness and can alert their owners to potential danger, providing an added layer of protection against theft and violence.

Dogs are Social Mediators for the Homeless

Dogs are incredible social mediators, serving as a bridge between homeless individuals and the world around them.

When homeless people have a dog by their side, strangers often feel more at ease and open to social interaction.

Even something as simple as feeding the dog can turn into a meaningful conversation – opening the door to human contact and a more profound sense of community.

Incidentally, homeless people are Not Exempt from Dog Tax, nor do they receive allowances from the government for caring for the animal. So a small donation helps – for people and animals!


Dogs play a powerful role in fostering social connections between people, serving as a bridge for interaction and communication.

For homeless individuals, the presence of a dog make all the difference when socializing with strangers. Even small gestures like food donations can facilitate human contact and provide a much-needed sense of community.

Challenges of Homeless People Owing a Dog

Expenses of Feeding and Caring

Owning a dog can be costly for homeless individuals, as it requires buying food and providing veterinary care. In one study, 55% of homeless adults reported issues with vet care, and 58% said feeding their pets was often difficult.

However, street clinics organized by groups like Community Veterinary Outreach help maintain the health of pets with homeless and low-income owners. Some homeless individuals even incorporate pet food into their budget or receive food donations from passers-by, pet stores, and animal organizations.

The Struggle to Find Safe, Pet-Friendly Housing

Homeless individuals often can’t stay in shelters with their Dogs, as very few shelters allow animals. In Toronto, the largest homeless population in Canada, only one shelter welcomes dogs and cats.

While there may be more “Dog-Friendly Shelters” – that aren’t advertised, the lack of options leaves many homeless individuals facing a difficult choice: Give up their Dogs or stay on the streets.

Increasing the number of Pet-Friendly Shelters would help alleviate this issue – getting more people off the streets and avoiding overcrowding in animal shelters.

Reframing Pet Ownership: Homeless Individuals Challenge Stereotypes and Stigma

Homeless pet owners face stigma and must constantly redefine what it means to be a good pet owner, challenging traditional definitions that require a physical home.

Strangers often criticize and threaten to report them, but homeless individuals care for their pets with love and dedication, often providing more than adequate care.

Despite these challenges, they keep pets for the same reasons housed individuals do: love, companionship, and a sense of purpose.


Owning a Dog while homeless can present several challenges, including expenses and difficulties finding pet-friendly housing.

Homeless individuals who keep pets do so for the same reasons as housed individuals, and they provide their pets with love and care despite the stigma and challenges they face.

How can I support Homeless People with Dogs?

There are several ways you can support Homeless People with Dogs:

  • You can donate pet food and supplies to local organizations that serve homeless individuals, such as food banks, shelters, or some outreach programs.
  • Volunteer with organizations that help homeless individuals and their pets – such as Community Veterinary Outreach – which provides veterinary care to low-income and homeless dog owners.
  • Advocate for more “Dog-Friendly Homeless Shelters,” and housing options in your community, and encourage elected officials to support such initiatives.
  • Consider donating money to organizations that help homeless pet owners, such as Pets of the Homeless or Street Dog Coalition.
  • Offer to walk a homeless individual’s dog or pet-sit for them if you have the time and resources.

Supporting – Homeless and Their Dogs – will make a huge difference in their lives – providing not only basic necessities like food and supplies – but also a sense of community and care that can be life-changing.

Read also: What to Expect When Your Dog Has Eaten a Tick: Consequences Explained


Homeless individuals keep dogs for various reasons, including protection, companionship, comfort, meaning, and social contact with others.

Dogs offer a sense of responsibility and meaning to life – they motivate their homelessowners to take better care of themselves and their furry friends. Homeless individuals credit their dogs with saving their lives, as dogs can decrease crime, drug and alcohol abuse, and contact with criminals.

Dogs provide stability and support, as well as boost self-image and self-esteem. They serve as social mediators, encouraging human contact and interaction and offering protection from harm on the streets.

In Short: Dogs are true lifelines for homeless individuals, providing a source of joy and companionship that can make all the difference in facing adversity.


Marco Heitner

Hello, my Name is Marco. My family has had pets since I can remember. Today we have a large aquarium and, since recently, a four-month old Labrador. I am the owner of this website, and it is my great pleasure to provide helpful knowledge about pets. Our team is constantly working hard to publish well-researched reports here.


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