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Jasmine's Law: End no pet policies ...

As we tumble towards the end of what has been a turbulent year, I thank my little dog Vinnie daily for being my constant positive in 2020. Never has the human animal bond been more relevant. Today we take a moment to once again think about why PAAW House came about and shine a light on our campaign to end pet discrimination.

The PAAW House journey started with our personal encounter with negative pet polices when we were taken to court for having our dog Vinnie in our family home. During the 3-year fight that followed we had 100s of messages from people in similar situations all over the country who had neither the resources or the will to fight. These stories and messages inspired us to set up an online hub for pet owners, pet lovers and pet friendly businesses, to create a platform to support each other and promote change. One voice, One vision, One mission.

We are therefore delighted that dog lover Andrew Rosindell MP will be introducing the ‘Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Bill’ to parliament this week. The bill will be known as Jasmine’s Law.

The Sunday Express today reports – “A bid will be launched this week to end the heartbreak of pets and owners being torn apart by landlords no pet policies. Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell will introduce a Bill which would place limits on the power of landlords in rented accommodation. Mr Rosindell is alarmed at the frequently unjust way renters are forced to give up their beloved pets if they have to move to new accommodation.

Under the proposal’s renters could prove they are responsible dog owners. On Wednesday he will tell MPs that every year pet owners who are trying to move into new rented accommodation are faced with the reality that their family could be torn apart. Mr Rosindell said “As a dog owner for 25 years I understand as well as anyone the connection a person can have with their pet and for too long, I have heard tragic stories of pet owners separated from their pets because of blanket bans that landlords implement”.”

The BBC, Saturday 10th October reported – “this weeks wagging tail belongs to Conservative MP and noted dog lover Andrew Rosindell. His ‘Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Bill’ seeks to assert a tenants right to keep a pet and is the latest in a series of pet friendly 10-minute rule bills from backbench Tories”. We salute you Andrew.

Robert Jenrick announced earlier this year that he would be reviewing the model tenancy agreement to make it easier to rent with pets, a clear acknowledgement that government value the needs of pet owners. Sadly, this in itself will change little as (a) it is just a set of guidelines (b) not mandatory and (c) only applies to the private sector. Coupled with the governments ‘planning for the future’ scheme to create more homes for young people and better neighbourhoods we feel it’s a perfect time to review no pet clauses and end pet discrimination.

The Build to Rent scheme which has been in operation in the UK for around 5 years has been forward thinking enough to acknowledge that many of us consider pets to be part of the family. They use the fact that their properties are pet friendly as a key marketing tool. This is great for those who can afford to live in these new modern developments with their pets but raises the question, what about those who can’t?

Dan Batterton, Head of BTR (Build To Rent) at Legal & General said: “The Build to Rent model was conceptualised to professionalise the rental sector, whilst make renting a positive and proactive lifestyle choice. With 5,000 homes now available or in development across the country, we are proud to have led the market in encouraging residents to make their apartment their home, through painting and decorating, offering leases of up to 5 years and, of course, allowing pets in all our developments.

Pets have been proven to have significant positive impacts on health and wellbeing. According to a study by the Mental Health Foundation, 87% of cat owners believed that this had had a positive impact on their mental health. For many, pets are key members of the family and we have designed our schemes to be flexible and accommodate the widest possible demographics.”

There are many others who have been working and campaigning on these issues for years:

Charities, StreetVet and Street Paws work tirelessly to secure temporary pet friendly accommodation for their homeless clients. StreetVet recently won a prestigious award for their StreetVet accredited hostels scheme. They plan to work with hostel managers and staff to implement positive pet policies. This will allow hostels to accept rough sleepers and their pets removing one more barrier from getting off the streets. A project we love and support.

Following the death in 2017 of her close friend Mr. Chadwick, who took his life after being told he would not be allowed take his dogs and cat into the permanent accommodation found for him by the council, Dee Bonett was successful in getting the council in Maidstone to alter its policy so that homeless people could take their pets into its emergency accommodation. Dee has dedicated the last three years to her campaign and continues to make positive steps forward to implement these changes nationwide.

Elizabeth Ormerod, SCAS (Society for Companion Animal Studies) has been working for many years to end pet discrimination and highlight the plight of those forced to give up their pets due to outdated rules. Deborah Rook, Animal Law Expert has written numerous papers on the topic and provided proposals on how we can review negative pet polices whilst balancing the interests of ‘no pet people’. This has been done successfully in other countries. I know there are many others out there who I have not yet met but I hope we can continue to collaborate to make these changes happen. Together anything is possible!

As we get behind our favourite MP Andrew Rosindell in his bid to assert a tenants right to keep a pet, we hope that all those who are fortunate enough to love and by loved by a pet will continue to show their support. We are grateful to APDAWG for recently featuring our campaign and the current petition to end pet discrimination in their summer newsletters. Thanks also to Anna Webb for featuring our story on her podcast ‘A Dogs Life’ and her continued support and ‘Dog Desk Radio’ for giving us the opportunity to chat with them on the topic.

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