Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Homeless Clients and Dogs

For many rough sleepers parting with a dog is inconceivable. We know that the relationship between an owner and a dog can be a strong one, providing an emotional bond, personal safety and security, it can alleviate loneliness and even raise self esteem. There are some very good services which support homeless clients to look after their pets, such as The Dogs Trust with their Freedom Project and Hope Project (www.dogstrust.org.uk).
So many hostels still refuse clients with pets, while those that do, have waiting lists.

However there is always more than one side of the story. What about those that have dogs, yet show them very little affection and care? Or clients that are struggling to look after themselves, let alone another being.
Should we be calling the RSPCA or the Dog Warden and what can they actually do? Or should we take matters into our own hands?

(picture by Matthew Halstead http://matthewhalstead.com/ )


  1. In the past I have tried the Dog Warden and the RSPCA, and have been left frustrated. I know of another outreach worker that offered to buy a clients dog in order to get it to a better home. Any other suggestions for future reference would be good.

  2. Good item in the pavement http://bit.ly/bbqmFG

  3. Hi there,

    I work for Dogs Trust - sorry about the delay in commenting.

    To answer your question re irresponsible owners:
    Sadly as in all walks of life there are some people who are unable to provide adequate care for their pets. This can be due to a change in circumstance, a general lack of knowledge or in some cases because the owner is no longer able to cope.

    If you have concerns over the welfare of a client's pet we recommend you firstly raise the issue with the owner directly (where appropriate). If the situation can’t be resolved (eg by seeking veterinary care or behavioural advice) or if it is a clear case of neglect or cruelty, then you should contact the RSPCA directly.

    Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 all owners must provide their pet(s) with adequate food and fresh drinking water, somewhere suitable to live, proper exercise and access to veterinary treatment. You can find further information on this at Defra.gov.uk.

    Thanks also for including information on our Hope Project. It provides free vet healthcare and welfare advice through a veterinary entitlement card scheme in 84 areas across the UK, and we help hostels set up practical pet policies.

    If you have a client who would like to register their dog on our scheme please email us at hopeproject@dogstrust.org.uk or visit www.dogstrusthopeproject.org.uk.

    Thanks very much for raising the issue of homeless owners and their pets.