New measures to support people who are homeless and their pets.

Local SNP MSP Tom Arthur has welcomed news that pet owners facing homelessness are set to benefit from better support finding a home which allows them to keep their animals.

New guidance recommends that landlord and local authorities introduce:

  • temporary shelters with ‘dog friendly’ communal rooms
  • improved training for service staff in the importance and benefits of supporting people to remain with their pets and how to work with animals
  • risk assessments to ensure there are no issues with staff members being allergic to, or afraid of, animals
  • pet friendly policies that people sign and agree to in order to access accommodation

The guidance, developed by the homeless support service Simon Community on behalf of the Scottish Government, also includes information on existing services available.

To further support this, a new Homeless Pet Friendly Officer will work in partnership with the Dog’s Trust and Simon Community, helping landlords recognise the importance and value of pets to people experiencing homelessness.

A person centred approach is a key part of our ambition for delivering the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan, and I’m clear that respecting people’s meaningful and important relationships with their pets is an important element of that.”

The Scottish Government’s Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan

Commenting, Renfrewshire South MSP Tom Arthur said:

“It is vital that people’s meaningful and important relationships with their pets are respected. Being forced to choose between their pets – a source of comfort, stability and much-needed companionship – and a safe place to live is a choice no one should have to make.

“This report 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.”

CEO of Simon Community Lorraine McGrath 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.”

Background:Paws for Thought: Enabling a life off the street

Categories: News