Pets and companion animals can be sources of “structure and routine, resourcefulness, pride, and motivation” for individuals experiencing homelessness (Kerman et al., 2020, p.10). Homeless individuals reported that their pets reduced self-harm and increased their ability to cope with their circumstances. As many shelters do not permit pets, many homeless pet owners experience heightened stress as they are forced to live without housing accommodations for prolonged amounts of time. Recognizing the gap in accessing housing supports for this population, The Canadian Courage Project has partnered with SPCA and YouthLink Shelter & Transition Home to provide homeless youth with the essentials needed to support themselves and their animal companions.
“The primary factors that shape the health of Canadians are not medical treatments or lifestyle choices but rather the living conditions they experience.” (Mikkonen & Raphael, 2010, p.7)
The Canadian Courage Project understands that there are various factors contributing to youth homelessness, including a lack of affordable housing, gaps within health care and corrections, as well as disparities within the social determinants of health. Personal and familial factors have been found to have the greatest impact on child psychological wellness. The Canadian Courage Project strives to educate others on the positive mental health effects of pet ownership while simultaneously finding ways to address the gap.