Living on the street can be dangerous, says a Montreal homeless man who doesn’t want to be identified to protect his family’s privacy.
“I’ve been stabbed in the chest, lit on fire when I was sleeping, peed on, beaten up, robbed at knifepoint,” he tells Global News sitting on the sidewalk on Union Avenue just outside The Bay store in downtown Montreal.
That’s one reason he had a dog, a one-year-old German Shepherd mix, for protection.
But in late December he left the dog, Slayer, with a friend to go visit his children. But when he came back the friend and Slayer were gone.
Friends told him that the pair left with a couple in a truck.
“And that was it,” he says fighting back tears. “That was the last time anyone saw them.”
He suspects that it was the same couple who’d been trying to buy his dog for weeks, offering him hundreds of dollars at first.
“Then they came back and offered $2,000 but I said no,” he says.
The owner thinks they didn’t like him living on the street with an animal. Others have admonished him for having an animal outside in the cold, especially following the freezing death of a homeless person’s dog last November. But he points out that most street people do take care of their animals and the incident is rare.
“They shouldn’t come and steal our animals. They shouldn’t treat us badly because we have animals.”
Slayer had been with him since he was a puppy, and at one-year-old, he was surprisingly big at more than 180 pounds. The owner says Salyer gave him a reason to get up in the mornings.
“He was like a child and gave unconditional love,” he says.
“I’m dirty, I smell bad, I haven’t taken a shower in about three months, I’m wearing the same pair of pants. Would you wanna come sit next to me or maybe give me a hug? Slayer wouldn’t care!”
Several of his friends who live on the street also have pets. One friend who had a heroin addiction got a rat and he says it changed her life
“She`s no longer addicted to drugs but she still has the rat at her apartment.”
Workers at La Maison du Père shelter agree that pets can be valuable to the homeless. There is a therapy dog at the shelter that is used to bring affection to homeless men who have little. François Boissy, who runs the organization, says caring for a pet gives a sense of purpose to street people.
“They lose track of what they need to do during the day to survive,” he explains, “so for some of them it’s a survival thing as well.”
Slayer’s owner is getting help trying to find the animal from Refuge RR, and animal rescue. They’ve contacted the police as well as various pet organizations and according to volunteer Jennifer Stewart, even if they can’t get the dog back, they want to be sure that it’s fine.
“Is this dog safe, or is this dog now in a crack house, or is this dog with a breeder?” asked Stewart. “I mean, nobody can tell us if this dog is safe.”
His owner wants the dog back, though, and doesn’t want another dog.
“No, never. I want slayer to come home.”