A diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, veterinarian Dr. Timothy Fitzpatrick owns and operates ABQ Petcare Hospital in Alberquerque, New Mexico. Through Pets of the Homeless, Dr. Timothy Fitzpatrick and his vet staff provide no-cost care to pets of homeless owners through a local animal shelter.

While some may wonder why individuals struggling with homelessness choose to take on pet ownership, many studies show that these companion animals provide positive and even life-saving benefits. Multiple studies have revealed a lower risk of criminal behavior among individuals who are homeless yet own dogs, while another study showed a lower incidence of drug use in the same population. Stories have even emerged of pet owners who cite their pets as an inspiration for addiction recovery.

In surveys and interviews, homeless pet owners repeatedly refer to their animal companions as their closest friend, the only source of love in their lives, and even the reason they stay alive. Many feed their pets before they feed themselves. Some even refuse shelters that will not accept their pets, choosing personal discomfort over separation for their companion animals. Researchers and experts typically attribute this connection to the unconditional and non-judgmental love that an animal provides, a life-affirming benefit to people who may be judged, discriminated against, or even physically hurt by other humans.

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