Street Pets & Saturday Blog Hop

People asking for money on the street is unfortunately nothing new to any large city, especially in Manhattan. But, what is disturbing is what seems to be a trend in New York City to involve animals.

For the past month, I’ve seen the same guy standing outside the subway stop I get off of for work holding a sign asking for money. The man, who I’d say is about 50-60 years old, holds a sign asking for money next to a moving cart-like device topped with boxes, cloths and I’m assuming everything he owns.

About two weeks ago as I walked past him, I noticed he had two kittens sitting on top. The kittens were playful with him and each other, and looked healthy, clean and in good overall condition. I immediately thought to myself, “that doesn’t seem right,” but kept walking. I felt bad for this poor guy, who obviously hit rough times, but thought, “at least he has his pets”.

But, as the day went on, I got more upset about it, because I kept thinking it was odd he —  what seemed like suddenly —  had these tiny kittens. I didn’t see him for a few days, but earlier this week he was there again, and as I walked past, I noticed he had two more kittens that again looked like they were in very good condition. My intuition told me something was off, but I kept walking. Well, I didn’t get further than the other side of the street when my curiosity kicked in and wanted to know more about these kittens. I walked back, but he was no where to be found.

 That night a friend said they saw someone selling puppies on the street. I was horrified, and thought of those kittens again. What if they guy I saw was selling the kittens?

The next day when I was getting on the subway after work, I saw  two dogs tied to a cart-like mobile structure. As I stopped to admire their cute faces I realized there was one around and it seemed like they were abandoned. I started looking around and bent down to pet the pups, which had collars with tags on and even had painted toe nails. When I did this, I noticed the egg crates on the cart they were attached to were filled with several guinea pigs and kittens.

I panicked, and was horrified all at the same time, and immediately reached for my Blackberry, to call someone. Not really sure who I was going to call, but I knew something had to be done. As soon as I took my Blackberry out, also snapping a photo of the pups, I guy came walking over and started to push it away.

My journalistic gut immediately told me something shady was going on, and tried to engage the guy in conversation — all the while him turning away from me and trying to walk away.

Me: “Hi! Are these your dogs? They are absolutely adorable.”

Him: “Yeah, they’re mine.”

Me: “The guinea pigs and kittens, too?”

Him: “Yeah.”

Me: “Oh, cool. They’re cute. Where did you get them?”

Him: “The pet store.”

And then, he started walking faster and as I would pick up my pace, he would then turn and he wouldn’t even look at me.

*Ding! Ding! Ding!* Something was not right about the situation, but I decided at that point I was in no way capable of continuing this discussion with him.

Several things crossed my mind — he was selling them for profit, they were stolen or they were his pets and he had no where else to keep them but in those crates. All three of those scenarios killed me.

If he was doing something like selling them, what could I do? Call the police? It’s not illegal to sell animals. Yeah, maybe they could have gotten him on a technically like no sales tax certificate or vendor license, but then what would happen to those animals — they would be sent to animal control.

The thought that these animals may be all he has and they bring him happiness made me wonder if there were resources out there for homeless people with pets. Can they stay in shelters with them? How do they get them vaccinated not to spread disease?

I had no immediate way of changing the upsetting situations I had been witnessing. My guess is this is not new, but it was something that I never encountered working in Manhattan for three years prior, until now.

Even before that when I would be in the city for pure fun, I never saw this — or felt so helpless.

This post is linked up to the Saturday Pet Bloggers Blog Hop brought to you by Two Little Cavaliers, Life with Dogs, and Confessions of the Plume.

Check out these other great pet blogs 🙂

10 thoughts on “Street Pets & Saturday Blog Hop

  1. Over from LBS tea party. I would not have known what to do either. Perhaps it animal control could intervene and find out how he is getting the animals. If he is purchasing them from pet stores, they are just as accountable because it must be obvious that he has another motivation other than giving lots of animals homes. If you do happen to learn of a system that helps put a stop to it, I would be very interested in hearing. Don't beat yourself up… you did not cause this

  2. The number of animals the second man had is definitely suspicious but animal control probably can't do anything without proof of mistreatment. It's awful to feel so helpless when the welfare of animals is involved.

  3. I saw "gypsys" in Paris doing this and was told not to give them money because they just use the dogs as a gimick. I hope they are his pets but it seems to me he has wayyy too many. Don't know who you could call either..Found you on the blog hop!!

  4. Wow. That is a new one. I have never heard or seen anything like that.
    My first instinct is that he was selling them for money. I've never seen someone who is homeless have THAT many animals. Also, his strange behavior seems to fit this. How could the dogs and kittens be in such good shape?
    We have people here who beg at the highway entrances and exits, many of them have a dog with them as well. One of our news channels did a story on them and discovered that many of them had homes and this was their way of making easy money. I wonder if this is indeed like what Timmy mentioned above and a gypsy technique being played out on the streets of NY? So very glad you took pics and confronted him. There is no doubt that I would have done the same.
    So sad either way.

  5. What's most disturbing is the quantity he had and the way they kept appearing and his evasive maneuvers (and the TYPES of critters he had). I mean i've certainly seen homeless people who have a dog or a few cats that are clearly very bonded to the person and the animal is in pretty good condition and obviously cared for, but this whole scenario is very sketchy.

    People do some disgusting things to animals that this would be very concerning to me as well… (selling small animals as bait animals for fighting dogs, guinea pigs are a common food in Peru [I think Peru], selling the animals to unknown people who could do unspeakable things, etc.)

  6. Toby is so cute! I have a Yorkie named Charlie and his pic is on my blog also. He turned 3 in June. I don't know how you can look into any of their eyes and do anything mean to them. They love you no matter what. I stopped by from the Sunday Social blog hop and now am a follower of your blog thru GFC, Facebook and Twitter. I would really appreciate a follow back on all three also when you get the chance. Thanks so much and have a great week!


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