Yesterday, I talked about mental health and autism service animals. But service animals are not the only animals that support people with anxiety and other mental health challenges. Pets are also wonderful companions to people with mental health challenges.
But what if someone with mental health challenges finds herself or himself suddenly needing to go to the hospital, or worse, ends up homeless? Many people don’t seek help because they don’t want to leave pets behind. Most homeless shelters and hospitals can’t accept pets because of allergies. Recently though, some people have begun to address this problem through foster programs and pet friendly shelters.
In Toronto, a woman named Linda Chamberlain delayed getting treatment and a supportive apartment because she didn’t want to leave her cat, Geogio, behind. When she finally moved into a pet friendly apartment, Chamberlain founded People and Pets, a pet fostering charity for people who need mental health support.
In Montreal, there is a pet friendly youth shelter called Dans la Rue (On the Street). Many of the young people there come from troubled homes, and their pet is often the only family member they have.
Women who are fleeing abuse can find safe care for their pet through the Safe Pet program. Run by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, the Safe Pet program either boards the pet free of cost at a vet clinic for up to two weeks, or finds a foster or adoptive home for the pet.
Help support these important programs in whatever way you can. Both people and their pets will thank you.