‘The Companion‘ highlights the heartbreaking struggle that pet owners experiencing homelessness go through – 93% say that they would rather spend Christmas on the streets than give up their four-legged friend for a hostel room.
The film shows Staffordshire Bull Terrier Bailey, a StreetVet patient, and his owner Andy Hutchins, a couple who have previously experienced homelessness for many years. And the harsh reality for many homeless people in the UK is that they have to choose between warmth and shelter or their beloved pet.
In the UK, up to 25% of those experiencing homelessness have a pet and for each individual, their circumstances are different. For some their pet has been in their life before housing was an issue. For others, the pet finds them at a time of mutual need. However fewer than 10% of hostels accept pets into their facilities, perpetuating UK homelessness.
In 2020, StreetVet set up the ‘StreetVet Accredited Hostel Scheme’ which currently has 24 accredited sites across the country enrolled, with a further 62 additional hostels going through its onboarding process. The scheme supports temporary accommodation providers to become pet friendly allowing owners with pets into supported, pet-safe accommodation.
- Benefits of the scheme include staff training on how to work with animals, comprehensive temporary accommodation pet policy, veterinary care, telemedicine platform for virtual vet appointments, emergency boarding to allow those to attend medical appointments as needed, behavioural support, as well as a welcome pack, food, toys and treats.
The Companion aims to raise awareness of this important issue, whilst urging the public to donate to StreetVet’s ‘The Big Give Christmas Challenge’ initiative – a non-profit, charitable website that enables donors to find and support charity projects in their field of interest.
StreetVet, with the help of Pangolin and 3 Heads, has raised £43,141.27 (inc gift aid) for the campaign in just seven days. And despite now being over, donations can still be made here.
Jade Statt, Co-Founder, Clinical Director and Brand Ambassador for StreetVet, commented: “Shortages of pet-friendly housing is an issue which affects thousands of those experiencing homelessness who rely on their pets for warmth, a sense of responsibility and companionship. The prospect of having to leave behind your best friend is an impossible decision, and that’s why it’s critical to spotlight these real-life issues.
- “Our objective is to create long-term change, ensuring that pet-friendly supported accommodation is readily available – regardless of individual circumstances.”
Andy Hutchins, StreetVet Advocate for the Human-animal Bond, said: “The relationship between people and their pets is truly unique; Bailey was my saving grace during my time living on the streets and I wouldn’t be here without him.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without StreetVet and their amazing volunteers who helped keep Bailey healthy and happy when we needed it most. I would encourage anyone watching the video to donate what they can to StreetVet’s Big Give Christmas Challenge and help this outstanding charity to continue its invaluable community support.”
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