There is a homeless guy who wanders the area around our supermarket. He is harmless; never begs (I'm told he has a mental illness). There was a GSD wandering the same area skinny as a rail before he showed up. Now the dog has decided it belongs to him. It follows him everywhere and it is fat and happy. It will only take food from him. If you offer the dog food, it will not eat. If you offer the man food, he will take it and usually give it to the dog.
Allah took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it, and created the horse. Thou shall fly without wings, and conquer without any sword, O, Horse! Anonymous Bedouin legend
The dogs help protect their people too, if nothing else than as an early warning device... I see a lot of homeless or down on their luck folks with dogs; I almost always have both food and dog treats with me when I leave Walmart (where they hang out here) and I have been known to hand out both on my way out the parking lot. As long as the dog is being fed and cared for it's a pretty ideal life for a dog, if you look at it from the dog's POV.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey
A woman I know spent several years on the street due to addiction. Somewhere along the line she picked up an adorable black puppy, who traveled from DC to New Orleans to Seattle with her. In Seattle, this woman received treatment and got clean. She's now married with two children, and that dog is still with her, although he's probably almost 15 years old now. Her kids love him. She says when she was homeless, she always made sure he ate, even if she didn't. I think they took care of each other
I've never seen a street person with a dog (of course, now I'll see 30 ), but while I can understand the comfort of a dog to someone in a hard life, I'm kind of dubious how positive the setup is, overall. Most of the homeless have mental or addiction issues, which makes it hard/impossible to be a decent owner. And most of the times I'e heard of homeless people's pets, it's because they've bitten someone.
I always stop and give dog food (well usually I carry 10 pounds of cat food) and a little cash to homeless people with dogs. I don't want them buying booze with cash, but it's the chance I take., i give the guys money.
In Atlanta, the humane society and my vet hospital Briarcliff would let the homeless leave their pets there free. My vet hospital spayed and altered 20 something cats belong to one Vietham veteran with mental problems......all services for FREE. I also get the homeless with animals on TV as features so they can either get work or get food for themselves and the animals. Although you have to be careful with drunks as one guy with a golden retriever "forgot" that he'd left it at humane society for a few day so he came to the courthouse to curse me out as he thought Briarcliff Hospital had the dog. (My vet had done the shots on the dog for me, again FREE.)
The most interesting homeless guy situation was when I was driving up 95 in the winter and saw a tent by the side of the road, with 2 cats outside the tent. Inside was a woman who was mentally ill, along with her adult son and a dog. They had been living in an old school bus in FL and were trying to get back to their home in Wyoming. In winter. OMG. The cats and dog were in good shape and stayed with the tent. But while I was trying to go find help, the sheriff's dept moved the whole group up one county. So I found an American Indian guy who managed a resort trailer park nearby, and he agreed to take everyone, dog, cats, old lady and her adult son, back to Wyoming for $$$. I hit the nearest bank and got the cash. I hope that they all got back to Wyoming in good shape. A local judge who knew the American Indian told me he was trustworthy.
I've not been to the homeless camps around Atlanta and Savannah, but there are some homeless guys and others traveling on the highways and interstates. You can give them food and cash and hope that it helps them out some. some restaurants and grocery stores will give the guys food and dog food. And I say guys, but there was a homeless woman in Atlanta who had a very nice Australian Cattle Dog. As others have said, all the dogs looked good.
I found a dog once on the side of the road who was microchipped (definitely the only time that's ever happened :-)) and we were able to trace him to an incredible organization in Florida called St. Francis House Pet Care. They do some pretty incredible stuff - provide food, heartworm meds, routine and emergency vet care, etc. http://www.stfrancishousepetcare.org/about.htm
I spoke with the dog's owner, who was not in a position to take him back, but I at least was able to rehome him and let her know that he was okay. I love that there are programs like this - yes, it would be great if every dog could be spoiled and live in a house, but with so many dogs in shelters, I think it's really terrific to be able to keep pets with people who love them.
This is the program that is in my city I mentioned. Its kind of fantastic.
--Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity--
I know of a homeless individual who has is often accompanied by two Canada geese. They fly over from the nearby wetlands and hang out with this man on the traffic island in the middle of a very congested intersection. He says they're looking for the granola bars that people give him, which he shares with them.
Being mentally ill doesn't mean one can't care for an animal. It often means one can't hold down a stressful job and that one has difficulty making/keeping human relationships, though, and that's where the homelessness can come in.