Homeless individuals in the UK continue facing a challenging dilemma this winter – choosing between shelter and their beloved pets, says charity Street Paws.

With an estimated 271,000 homeless individuals in the country, approximately 25% are pet owners. However, only a mere 10% of hostels currently permit animals, forcing homeless pet owners into an agonising decision, as revealed by Crisis surveys.

Addressing a Heartbreaking Choice

Street Paws, a charity dedicated to providing frontline veterinary care and support primarily for the homeless pet population, predominantly dogs in the north of England, is advocating for greater acceptance of pets in shelters. This Christmas, the charity intensifies its efforts, urging more hostels to join their Dog Champions initiative, striving to accommodate individuals in need along with their pets.

The Dog Champions Scheme equips hostel staff with essential skills to create safe spaces for both residents and their pets. Recently, The Saviour Trust in Leeds joined the scheme, reflecting a commitment to fostering a more compassionate approach. Hannah Iwanuschak, a spokesperson for The Saviour Trust, expressed gratitude towards Street Paws for enabling their hostel to open doors to homeless individuals with dogs.

Initiatives and Support by Street Paws

Street Paws offers accredited staff training, canine first aid training, pet policies, vet support, patient registration, and comprehensive veterinary care through the Dog Champions Scheme. Additionally, this year, they introduced resources like Good Ownership and a Pet CV to aid owners in transitioning into permanent accommodation with their pets.

Michelle Southern, the charity’s founder, stresses the documented bond between homeless individuals and their pets, acknowledging the profound positive impact on mental and physical well-being. Street Paws also firmly advocates that owning a pet should not hinder access to support and a safe place to sleep.

“The nights are getting darker and colder, and it is essential that as many people make it to a shelter as possible,” she said. “We believe that skilling up hostels and helping them to become pet friendly is a giant stepping stone and has proven success with our many partners across the UK.”

For more information or to contribute to Street Paws’ cause, visit www.streetpaws.co.uk.