One of the owner-animal pairs being monitored as part of our program to help the disadvantaged and their dogs get back on their feet. c.IFAW/Jean-Christophe HanchéAs part of its mission to rescue and protect animals in distress throughout the world, IFAW regularly comes to the aid of animals belonging to members of disadvantaged communities.

From the slums of South Africa to the working-class neighborhoods of Berlin, from the beaches of Bali to the streets of Reims, IFAW offers assistance to meet the basic needs of animals and improve their well-being, while also improving the well-being of their human companions.

This approach, which IFAW is applying to all of its projects, is based on the idea that animal welfare cannot be achieved without the consent and engagement of their human owners. Each and every dog-owner realizes how central they are to this concept.

The bond between people and their animals can sometimes be so strong that aiding one without aiding the other is bound to fail. That is why IFAW is working with disadvantaged dog-owners to improve the living conditions of both parties, the owner and the dog.

Unfortunately, there are a currently a number of prejudices concerning disadvantaged communities, in particular toward members of the homeless community who own dogs.

Some believe that dogs belonging to the homeless are mistreated, neglected, and exploited. Rarely are people familiar with the strong bonds that often exist between disadvantaged persons and their animals.

One example comes to mind.

This summer, I was walking my dog through a certain public square in the south of France.

The sun was out in full force, and the heat was crushing.

A homeless man was sitting on the ground with his dog.

The owner was in the shade, while his dog was out in the sun.

A woman sat down next to me and let me know how indignant she was at this owner who was “forcing” his dog to stay in the sun, without any water or protection.

However, after a few minutes the dog, unrestrained by any chain or leash, got up to go plop down in the shade, where its owner had placed a water dish for it.

The dog had simply felt like getting some sun, as my own dog sometimes does.

This story shows why it’s important to change how we look at things, so that we can shatter conventional wisdom and consider every problem from a different angle.

Thanks to this philosophy, IFAW has developed a close relationship with homeless shelters in the city of Reims, where our French office resides, in order to help disadvantaged owners and their dogs get back on their feet.

To illustrate, here’s a wonderful story of how a homeless man and his dog managed to escape their situation.

The man, John, had been on the street for several years, until he began to draw pictures depicting his special relationship with his dog.

John’s drawings were noticed by an art gallery director and are now sold for thousands of euros, which has made it possible for John and his dog to begin a new life, a long way from the financial insecurity of their past.

Relying on this idea of dogs as intermediaries, IFAW is working to spread awareness of the benefits associated with human/animal companionship in the process of returning to work.


To find out more about the CAIR project, click here

*Editor’s note: this post was translated from its original French counterpart. 

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Article source: IFAW

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