NCDL chief executive Clarissa Baldwin (centre) pictured at the launch of
the Welcoming Dogs pack campaign
per cent of housing providers are refusing to give homeless
people with dogs a bed for the night, according to a new survey
issued by the NCDL. This leaves the majority of dog owners
who are homeless or in housing crisis without the support
and shelter they so desperately need.
In a bid to end this no-win situation, the NCDL, the UKs largest dog welfare charity, has launched a campaign to persuade housing providers to reconsider their policies on dogs, with an information pack entitled "Welcoming Dogs". The pack contains guidelines for accepting dogs as well as model dog policies and case studies.
NCDL Chief Executive, Clarissa Baldwin, explains: "Sadly, many homeless dog owners are forced to decide between accommodation and the first step towards a safe life in settled housing and their beloved pets. The reality is that many homeless dog owners then choose the love and companionship of their pet over essential shelter and support.
22% of housing providers refusing to allow dogs do so simply
because of "hostel policy". Yet, in many cases there
is little reason for them to refuse. Our new "Welcoming
Dogs" Information pack provides guidelines and essential
policies to help hostels, day centres and shelters make an
informed decision about whether or not to accept dogs."
Only 2% of those housing providers interviewed cited dogs being a nuisance as the main reason for denying access to homeless people with dogs, only one hostel referred to past problems.
St Mungos is Londons leading service provider for the homeless and has accepted pets into its hostels for the last ten years. John Barker, Deputy Manager of one of St Mungos central London hostels explains:
"St Mungos accepts pets because if we didnt their owners wouldnt come in. Personally, I find that allowing dogs and other pets into the hostel I work in helps staff to enhance relationships with residents. Pets make the place much more like a home."
The NCDL has found that dogs provide real comfort to their homeless owners, helping them to cope with a tough lifestyle by boosting self esteem, providing emotional stability and giving them a purpose. As a result, homeless dog owners are less susceptible to depression or drug abuse than those who do not have a pet. The dogs themselves usually enjoy lots of regular exercise and the company of many other animals and people. Consequently, most homeless dogs are healthy, happy and loving.
The "Welcoming Dogs" Information Pack has been produced as part of the NCDLs Hope Project. For the last ten years, the Hope Project has been helping dogs whose owners are homeless or in housing crisis by providing preventative veterinary healthcare, giving advice and help to their owners as well as encouraging housing providers to accept homeless people who own dogs. The Hope healthcare programme includes free health checks, neutering and vaccinations at monthly clinics in London and through a voucher scheme operating across the UK.