Homeless folks and their pets

All photos: Norah Levine

In this heartwarming photo series, Austin-based photographer Norah Levine documents the chronically misunderstood relationship between homeless people and the pets they love.

The project, called Lifelines, benefits 4PAWS ("For People and Animals Without Shelter"), an advocacy program run by the Animal Trustees of Austin that helps provide veterinary care to homeless people's pets in need of spaying, neutering, vaccinations, emergency surgery and more.

"You can't judge somebody because they live out here," says Pops, one of the homeless people photographed for the project. Even though his dog, Wednesday, is healthy and happy, it isn't unsual for Pops to be on the receiving end of insults.

"I've had people look at me and say 'Aw, man, you neglect your dog,' and then they get to looking at her and they see how big and healthy she is, and they change their mind," Pops explains. "They can't believe she's that healthy with me living out here on the streets."

Watch the video below to learn more about the project and the people featured:

Thanks to a collaboration with audio producer Gabrielle Amstar, these touching photos are also paired with short audio clips that provide a brief glimpse into the experience of caring for animals out on the streets. Visit the Lifelines website to listen to the audio stories, and continue below to see more of Levine's photos.

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Pops

Pops

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Maggie and Eric

Maggie and Eric

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Jeremy

Jeremy

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Bradley

Bradley

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Courtney and Calvin

Courtney and Calvin

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Chuck

Chuck

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Connor

Connor

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Daniel

Daniel

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Denise

Denise

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Jessica

Jessica

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Jedd

Jedd

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Kevin

Kevin

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Kristin

Kristin

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Lynn

Lynn

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Rose

Rose

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Sam

Sam

 
Homeless folks and their pets: Sandra

Sandra

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.