eCite Digital Repository

The unbreakable bond: the mental health benefits and challenges of pet ownership for people experiencing homelessness


Cleary, M and West, S and Visentin, D and Phipps, M and Westman, M and Vesk, K and Kornhaber, R, The unbreakable bond: the mental health benefits and challenges of pet ownership for people experiencing homelessness, Issues in Mental Health Nursing pp. 1-7. ISSN 0161-2840 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

DOI: doi:10.1080/01612840.2020.1843096


Pet ownership provides a unique relationship that is beneficial to many aspects of the pet owner’s life, including mental health and companionship. Mental health and social isolation are negatively impacted by homelessness, increasing the importance of the owner-pet bond during this time. However, this relationship is complicated by the need for pet owners to urgently find accommodation for themselves while still caring for their pets. This paper explores two firsthand narratives of the relationship between a person and their pets during a period of homelessness and subsequent search for accommodation. Both narratives highlight important aspects of the emotional bond between owner and pet: the concept of choosing pet over place; improved mental health and changed behaviours; and stressors or negative emotions of parental concern, separation anxiety and grief. These narratives emphasise the importance of supporting, expanding and creating new pet-friendly crisis and permanent accommodation options for pet owners experiencing homelessness.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:mental health, pet ownership, homelessness
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Nursing
Research Field:Mental health nursing
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Cleary, M (Professor Michelle Cleary)
UTAS Author:West, S (Dr Sancia West)
UTAS Author:Visentin, D (Dr Denis Visentin)
UTAS Author:Phipps, M (Mrs Monique Phipps)
UTAS Author:Kornhaber, R (Dr Rachel Kornhaber)
ID Code:141752
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Nursing
Deposited On:2020-11-17
Last Modified:2021-03-18

Repository Staff Only: item control page