Man’s Best Friend

Why do homeless people have dogs? We spoke to Kaz, Deputy Day Centre Manager and resident dog lover, about why homeless people have dogs and how we help look after their pets.

Why do homeless people have dogs?
“Most of the homeless people that we see had their dogs first, and then became homeless but didn’t want to let their dog go, which we totally understand. They really love their dog, at what may be the most difficult time of their life their dog is company, it loves them unconditionally and provides a feeling of safety.”

What’s it like for a dog on the street?
“The street is a hard place for dogs, it can make them anxious, they never know who’s going to walk up to them, go past them. They can learn bad habits. Even though we try our best to keep people and their dogs together; sometimes the best decision is for people to give up their dog and we can help them with that. I’ve had to say to people, “this is the hardest thing, but it’s the best thing.”

What support do we offer people with dogs?
“Clients with dogs can come in after hours with their pet for an appointment as we don’t allow dogs in when the service is running for health and safety reasons. We want people to be able to access the service as much as possible though, so if someone turns up with a dog, and it’s an emergency, a member of staff will sit outside with the dog while they get things sorted. Having a dog can make accessing accommodation difficult but we persevere. Some hostels do take dogs or some council flats will, but the private rental sector usually doesn’t. It does make things hard.

We can also register dogs with The Hope Project, which is part of the Dog’s Trust, and works specifically with homeless dogs. It means they can access the Vet for micro-chipping, injections or emergency treatment. It’s all about responsible dog ownership.”