Pine Street Inn, New England’s largest homeless shelter, has partnered two often-overlooked constituencies: homeless men and abused dogs. A small group of homeless men–who have individually spent more than twenty years on the street–share a new residence at Pine Street’s Stapleton House with abused and abandoned dogs. A simple yet powerful idea.
As the author, Meghan Irons, notes:
These two homeless creatures – man and dog, both shadows in life – are finding that they have a lot in common – a history of abandonment, trauma, and distrust.
How do these pairings build trust?
First, many of the men suffer from paranoia and other psychiatric issues. Unwilling to discuss what has happened to them, these men often find comfort in animals. The introduction of dogs–and caretaking for the dogs–assists them in the process of opening up and requesting help from the staff of five. Walking the dogs helps the men in conversing with strangers and in building trust.
More about Pine Street’s programs (including how to help) are here.