Current statistics suggest around 320,000 people are currently experiencing homelessness in the UK and anywhere from 5% to 25% of them are homeless with a pet.
Hostels are an essential part of the UK response to homelessness, providing individuals with a temporary place to stay and helping them to find a way into permanent accommodation. In addition hostels can play a key role in assisting residents with reintegration into society via provision of essential services; such as medical and mental health care, access to support workers, applications for benefits and identity documents and employment skills training.
Research has shown that fewer than 7% of homeless pet owners would give up their dog in exchange for housing, yet only 10% of all UK hostel projects currently accept pets*. This leaves bonded pet owners at a horrendous disadvantage.
The main reasons given by hostels for not accepting residents with pets are:
a lack of staff knowledge and training
health and safety concerns
pet welfare responsibility concerns
“no pet” clauses in hostel lease agreements
greater difficulty in finding pet friendly permanent housing to “move on,” occupying hostel rooms for longer
Hostels that do not currently allow pets to stay with owners could be missing out on the opportunity to support up to 25% of homeless individuals.
StreetVet wants to ensure nobody has to choose between their pet and a roof over their heads. In response to feedback from hostels, we have developed a comprehensive Hostel Accreditation Scheme to offer training and wrap-around support, enabling them to adopt positive pet policies. It is our hope that our 10-point Accreditation Scheme will provide hostels with the confidence and assurances they require to begin accepting homeless people with pets.
One of the StreetVet charity aims is to protect and foster the human-animal bond in what we recognize is one of its most profound forms, namely that between a long-term companion and an owner experiencing homelessness. We always strive to keep pets and their owners together whenever possible, in recognition of the mutual benefits this brings. We do this by helping owners keep their pets healthy and happy, advocating for pets and their owners, and by helping eliminate barriers which otherwise exclude pet owners from accessing essential services.