As many of you know, the Positive Living, Positive Homes (PLPH) study has been actively sharing its findings in its final research phases. One of the ways we have been sharing findings is through holding gatherings at various community-based organizations that helped and supported us throughout the study. We recruited participants living with HIV at these organizations, and service providers of these organizations participated in the study too. Some of these organizations also kindly hosted us by providing us with private and confidential spaces so our participants felt safe and secure in doing in-depth interviews.
Pets came up as one of the key themes out of the interviews with people living with HIV (PLHIV). Not surprisingly, pets were a very popular topic at the recent community gatherings amongst attendees (including people with lived experience, people from communities who are interested in and are advocates for HIV and/or housing, and service providers). When we asked folks in the room to raise their hands if they owned a pet, close to half (at one meeting) and more than half (at another meeting) raised their hands. As the rooms spoke and as our data speak, pets are a huge part of people’s lives.
For the PLPH participants living with HIV, pets promoted health in many ways. Some of our participants said that their pets, especially dogs, keep their physical health in check because they have to go outside to walk the dog and let the dog do its business. This meant that the participants were also walking too. Also, our participants who own a pet shared that their pets are critical to their mental health. Their pets allowed them to feel less isolated, and the connection and love they have with their pets really helped them feel better. One participant shared,
- “I’ve had depression my whole life. I go through cycles. And I know that my dogs keep me from isolating myself, because they have to go out to go to the bathroom, so they keep me engaged in the world, and just their company is really quite comforting. So they’re very important to me.”
But sometimes, having pets mean being denied for housing. Here is what one participant said,
“I went to go try another [rental], they said ‘No,’ they won’t let my dog. I love, love my dog.”
This participant was not able to rent because of a “no pets” policy. This is an important area of advocacy for our sector and beyond – our system should support us to keep those facilitators of health close to us and one should not be denied housing because of pets. There is a petition to “End “No Pets” Policies in British Columbia” if you are interested in adding your voice to this movement.
Watch for more PLPH findings in the coming weeks!
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Please contact Mona Lee, PAN’s Evaluation Coordinator at [email protected].