A Church-Based Approach to Ending Family Homelessness

Home, for many children, is a place where they can have pets

“When asked to draw their families, many of the children in this project identified their pets as being members of their families and felt that they were not “at home” until they had their pets living with them. It appeared that this was not only about children wanting to have an animal companion but also because it represented some stability for children who associated having pets with staying somewhere permanent:

  • [In my family, there’s] my five fish, my pet Speedy, my pet Max, and Flick and, um, I’m sure there’s another one—no that’s all of them. [Do you have any people in your family?] Oh yeah—my brother, two sisters and my mum. (Boy, age 9)
  • Having a pet means that you’re going to stay there for a while ’cos you can’t have pets if it’s only a short-term thing. Kids know that because they’re pretty smart. That’s why I always wanted a dog. (Young man, age 14)

A number of the younger children also felt that their pets gave them support and were friends to them when they felt alone. They valued the fact that they could talk to their pets about anything and that they cheered them up when they were sad:

  • If you have an animal you can talk to the animal and they will always just listen and not say things like “you’re ugly” and stuff. (Boy, age 11)

Many children recalled the sadness they felt when they had to leave their pets behind, but were excited about being able to have animals when their families found somewhere stable to live.  Home, for many children, was a place where they could have pets.”

Family Matters, 2008 No.78, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Tim Moore, Morag McArthur and Debbie Noble-Carr, pages 36-43.

Someone Cared is the story of how Bridge of Hope united one girl with her cat.