Paws for Thought, urges homelessness charity

P4t jonny (1)

Simon Community Scotland issues guidance around pets for housing providers. 

27th November 2019 by Gavin Stuart 1 Comment

A leading charity is urging councils and service providers to recognise the vital role dogs can play in the lives of homeless people.

Simon Community Scotland (SCS) said the animals provide vital companionship to rough sleepers while also giving them a reason to exercise, improving both their mental and physical health.

The charity has now published guidance for organisations who might otherwise be wary or unsure as to how to respond to people who are homeless, when accompanied by their pet dog.

In the guidance, dubbed Paws for Thought, SCS recommends pet-friendly policies across housing and support services that dog owners can sign and agree to in order to access accommodation.

Advice is also given on how to provide dog-friendly communal rooms in temporary shelters and risk assessments to ensure there are no issues with staff members being allergic to, or afraid of, pets.

In addition, a new Homeless Pet Friendly Officer at SCS will work in partnership with the leading dogs charity, Dogs Trust, helping homeless services and landlords recognise the importance of pets to homeless people and supporting them to introduce pet-friendly policies.

Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community Scotland’s chief executive officer, said: “No-one should ever be placed in a position where they have to choose between a safe place to stay or their pet. What makes this choice even harder is the trauma and loss many of the people we support have experienced.

“Being asked to give up the only constant in their lives that gives them company, purpose, security and love simply adds more trauma and loss to an already awful journey.

“The great thing is it doesn’t have to be like that, being dog and pet friendly isn’t that hard. This document shares the experiences and opportunities to provide that approach.”

The guidance was launched on Wednesday morning at an event attended by housing minister Kevin Stewart.

He said: “Pets offer comfort and stability and much-needed companionship. For someone facing homelessness, it is already an extremely difficult time.

“That’s why I’m glad to see the positive recommendations in this report. It clearly sets out why pets matter and provides practical steps to support social landlords in helping people experiencing homelessness to maintain their relationships with their pets.”

Clare Kivlehan, head of Outreach Projects at Dogs Trust, added: “Tragically, less than 10% of hostels across the country are dog-friendly, meaning many homeless dog owners struggle to find the sanctuary and support they so need and deserve.

“Every effort should be made to keep homeless people and their pets together as they are often their only source of comfort and support.”

27th November 2019 by Fran

Great idea - I hope it gets the publicity it deserves!