Homeless people are having to make a choice between being safe and warm or keeping their beloved pets
Homeless people are still being forced to choose between their pets and the safety of a shelter this winter and a charity that supports them is appealing for more shelters to accept dogs.
In the UK it is estimated that up to 25% of people experiencing homelessness have a pet, but at the moment only 10% of hostels allow animals to come inside.
This creates a terrible choice for pet owners who form the estimated 271,000 homeless population of this country, and fewer than 7% of homeless pet owners said they would give up their pet in exchange for housing in a recent Crisis survey.
Street Paws is a charity which provides front line veterinary care and support for north of England’s homeless pet population, which is predominantly dogs.
And this Christmas the charity is continuing its drive to encourage more hostels to become Dog Champions, and accept the animals of people in need too.
The scheme’s aim is to equip hostel staff with the essential skills that they need to ensure a safe place for residents and their pets.
The Saviour Trust, which supports homeless people in the Leeds area has just become the latest organisation to join the Dog Champions Scheme.
The trust’s spokesperson Hannah Iwanuschak, said: “It breaks our heart to think that people have to choose between a warm bed and their beloved pet – Street Paws have given us the tools to open our doors to the homeless people with dogs – we can’t thank them enough.”
The Dog Champions Scheme offers hostels accredited staff training and support, canine first aid training and a first aid kit, advice on pet policies, owner agreements, online 27/7 vet support, Street Paws patient registration and full veterinary care.
This year Street Paws has added a Good Ownership and a Pet CV for owners, to support their move into permanent accommodation with their pet.
The charity’s founder Michelle Southern, who coordinates the charity’s work in big cities such as Manchester, but also in smaller towns too, said: “The bond between a homeless person and their pet is well documented and provides many positive mental and physical benefits to the owner.
“Despite this most people who are homeless are still asked to give up their pet to access accommodation. Street Paws charity believes that owning a dog should not be a barrier to accessing support and a safe place to sleep.
“The nights are getting darker and colder, and it is essential that as many people make it to a shelter as possible, and we believe that skilling up hostels and helping them to become pet friendly is a giant stepping stone and has proven success with our many partners across the UK.”
To find out more and to donate to Street Paws go to www.streetpaws.co.uk