It's not just San Francisco’s population of homeless people that’s so troubling. Many residents of the street have pets, too. Richard Swerdlow has this Perspective.
The dog was adorable, a gray pup with floppy ears, and I was tempted to pet the cute puppy. But I didn't. Not because I don't love dogs - I totally do - but because his bearded, wild-eyed owner was sitting in a tent on a downtown San Francisco sidewalk.
It's a familiar sight -- walking by someone living on the street with all their belongings, including their pet. Some say it's ridiculous -- you can't take care of yourself, how can you take care of a pet? -- but as many as 10% of San Francisco's homeless residents actually keep pets.
Pets range from cuddly (I've seen fluffy cats and furry little dogs) to creepy (snarling pit bulls, rats) to exotic (birds, once a snake).
People who are homeless have pets for the same reasons any of us do, companionship and protection. A dog is both a deterrent to attackers and attraction for passers-by to donate, which is a sad statement. People feel sorry for the animal, but not for the human being living on the street. I know someone who carries treats in her purse to give to homeless dogs.