Panhandler

Ron Hannah

Joined May 2009

Artist's Description

BEST VIEWED LARGER – PLEASE read the entire description

FEATURES
Cats and Dogs 14th February, 2012
Life in the City, Suburbs, or Bush 15th February, 2012
Images Of Endearment 15th February, 2012
Black & White Photography 16th February, 2012
Nikon Fun Group 17th February, 2012
Props To Props 19th February, 2012
Artists Universe 21st February, 2012
ShuTTerBugs 22nd February, 2012
Animal Captions & Confessions 10th March, 2012
Our K9 Friend 14th March, 2012
In Dogs We Trust 11th May, 2012
Visualizing Emotion 16th May, 2012
Street Photography and Photojournalism 28th May, 2012
Canine Fine Art & Photography 2nd August, 2012
APBT (American Pit Bull Terrier) Lovers 2nd November, 2012
BSL Worldwide Targeted Dog Breeds 9th November, 2012

Venice, California.

There’s no place on earth like Venice, California, especially on a Saturday afternoon. Locals and tourists come to shop, eat, and soak up some rays – it was 75 and partly cloudy on this February afternoon.

When I spotted this dog and her owner, I couldn’t resist. Her name is unknown to me, as is her homeless owner’s. He was sitting on the boardwalk playing his guitar with his hat out for donations. The police rousted him because vendor permits are now required in Venice. What the cops DIDN’T see was his dog sitting opposite him with the sign around her neck. She sat there very calmly and obediently. A good dog! The spare change was practically pouring into the cup. I popped 86 cents into that cup. It was all I had.

I am emotionally torn by this image, however. On one hand the cleverness of her owner is to be commended: no cop would roust the dog. On the other hand she IS being exploited. On ANOTHER hand her survival is intrinsically tied to the homeless man whom she obviously loves as much as she is loved by him. There are many, many homeless men who have pets. They are so devoted to their animals that they will go without eating to insure the animal (usually a dog, but there ARE cats occasionally) eats. These animals love unconditionally, something that is lacking in the lives of their owners, hence the absolute devotion.

If, for some reason, the man who owns the animal is hospitalized, detained or arrested, the animal is inevitably taken in and euthanized. This can send the homeless person into a downward spiral of depression and loss that only compounds the hopelessness and feeling of being discarded by an uncaring society.

So, is this cute? Not in my opinion. I think it makes a damnable statement about the plight of the homeless in America. Yes, some of them are drug-addicted or alcoholic. Some of them are mentally ill. But there are tens of thousands in America who have just had a run of bad luck. So many have lost their homes due to the current economic climate in America for the last half-decade or so. There are children living in cheap, filthy motels with their parents. There are people sleeping in their vehicles (raising my hand). There are plenty of decent people who have no idea where the next MEAL is coming from, much less a JOB.

Try applying for a job when you haven’t had a shower or shave in 4 days. Or when you do not have a stable address or contact information. Try applying for relief in this country if you do not have children. There are so many homeless families that one cannot even qualify for relief unless there are children involved; there’s not enough money. The shelters are so packed that they turn people away due to lack of space.

What can YOU do to make a change in the life of a near-desperate person? What HAVE you done?

Whether this animal is being exploited is a matter of personal opinion, I suppose. Am I exploiting this dog, as well? The photo is for sale, after all. But ponder this: There were dozens of other panhandlers asking for spare change in Venice who were largely ignored by passersby. The dog, however, was raking it in.

Cute, huh?

any and all proceeds from sales of this image will go toward my efforts to help myself and the others I have encountered on the streets. We get by with a little help from each other.

Nikon D60
200mm
cropped
converted to B&W
processed a bit

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