Christine Kim, MSW
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The existing body of the literature on interspecies homelessness is limited. However, what is made clear through this pioneering research is that having four walls and a roof are not a pre-requisite for being a good animal caretaker. Moreover, the emotional healing that is provided by animal companionship is unparalleled. This is gathered from the narrative work of sociologist Dr. Leslie Irvine, who reveals the life saving, redeeming qualities of the bond between homeless people and their animals. The presented paper uses the work of Irvine as a foundation and builds on the momentum of My Dog is My Home: The Experience of Human-Animal Homelessness, a multi-media exhibition curated for the National Museum of Animals and Society.
As a part of the exhibition programming, the author organized a service fair for the companion animals of Skid Row--a 52 block area in downtown Los Angeles known for its high concentration of homelessness. Prior to entering the service fair, each attendee was asked to participate in an interview. The paper is a collection of themes gathered by the interview and by the author’s experience of working with this population. The paper does not offer generalizable data and is presented as a case study. Themes which emerged from the survey are presented as topic opportunities for quantitative and mixed method research, which is currently lacking in the field.
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