I deal with a lot of pet owners, and I'll tell you this much: some of those pets would be better off with a cash-strapped owner who truly cares for them, than they are in the well-off home they are ignored in--not to mention pets in shelters!
I was once homeless, no money. All I had was my dog. Many people would probably say I shouldn't have a dog I couldn't afford. But I took care of that dog, she ate before I did, went everywhere I went, played Frisbee every day, and we kept each other warm at night. She was my best friend, sometimes my only friend. I made a lot of mistakes with her as she was my first dog, but she was resilient and forgiving and loyal.
Eventually I got back on my feet, got a job, bought a house, and that dog lived out her golden years in the lap of luxury. She lived to be 16 years old.
Money isn't what makes a good pet owner. As long as the owner cares for the pet, takes responsibility, and gets its needs met, many dogs will be a heck of a lot happier living with a poor person that spends time with them, than they are languishing in a shelter, or thrown in the backyard of a nice big house and ignored.
Veterinary care is expensive, but there are low-cost vaccine clinics, spay and neuter. There is Care Credit for emergencies. In this country, pets do have a safety net. I'm not saying that poor people who can barely feed themselves should be getting a bunch of animals, but most of the homeless around here have dogs, and they all look pretty healthy, good weight, etc. Possibly in need of grooming, but when you have a hammer all you see are nails.
The problem is weeding out the bad owners whether rich or poor. There are just as many bad rich owners as there are bad poor owners, so adoptions should be granted on something other than income, IMO.
Freestep your post really stood out to me, because you have actually been there. Thanks for sharing about your previous situation. You sound the like the prime person i was thinking of in my head when i thought i would let a dog go to a homeless person or poor person.
I agree with it, there ARE plenty of good and bad owners, rich or poor. In fact our most recent abuse case happened with a homeless man- and we are still in court with it..
I know for our shelter, we don't do vet checks, we don't call landlords, we just look at what they put on their application and ask a few essential questions- that usually go in one ear and out the other i find.. And we are reading what they wanted us to see.
Magwart, when i first posted the question i guess i was thinking about adopters that come through my shelter, and i live in VT, USA. But it defiantly changes a lot when it becomes a world wide debate. And down south in US, is in itself, a whole different story than where i live.
Thanks for your replies everyone, of course it just opens up more debate for me, which is good! And i agree with what Shade, said there is no perfect answer.