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Homeless people with pets ‘refused’ shelter

A NEW survey, released by The Blue Cross animal welfare charity, shows that 86% of homeless people said that they had been refused a chance to get off the street and into accommodation simply because they owned a pet.

The charity is launching a campaign aimed at encouraging housing providers across Britain to review their policies, and to break the ‘vicious circle’ that pet-owning homeless people find themselves in.

Steve Goody, director of companion animal welfare at The Blue Cross, said: “For many homeless people a pet is their only companion. Asking them to give up their dog to stay the night in a hostel or B&B is like asking them to abandon their partner or best friend.

“If they have to tie their dogs up outside a hostel overnight most homeless people will not go in. Homeless charities like St Mungo’s have said that by making access to accommodation conditional on not having a pet, homeless people are placed in an individuals position and their homelessness may even be perpetuated as a result.”

The survey also reveals that a pet is the one good thing in many homeless people’s lives. 88 per cent said that companionship was the best thing about having a pet when homeless.
The statistics also show that pet owners on the streets were significantly less likely to suffer from depression and be drug users, than homeless people without pets.

As part of the pathway project, which brings together experts from the animal welfare, housing and homeless sectors, The Blue Cross has helped draw up ‘best practice’ guidelines for incorporation into tenant and housing policies (publication entitled ‘Pets and Housing - The Way Forward’).

The Blue Cross is hoping that they will form the basis of an agreed pets and housing policy nationwide which will satisfy the needs of both pet-owning and non-pet-owning tenants.