Homeless people in Leeds are being forced to choose between their dog and a shelter this winter, charity says
Homeless people in Leeds are being forced to choose between their pets and the safety of a shelter this winter, a charity says.
Street Paws, which provides frontline veterinary care for pets of the homeless in Leeds and the North, has called for more support for rough sleepers with pets.
The charity's research found that one in 10 homeless people in the UK have a pet, but fewer than 10 per cent of hostels allow animals to come inside.
Street Paws says this creates a "terrible choice" for homeless pet owners and less than seven per cent said they would give up their pet in exchange for housing in a recent Crisis survey
In partnership with the south of England's Dogs on the Streets charity, Street Paws has launched a drive to encourage more hostels to become Dog Champions and accept the animals of people in need.
The scheme's aim is to equip hostel staff with the essential skills they need to ensure a safe place for residents and their pets.
It offers hostels accredited staff training and support, canine first aid training and a first aid kit, advice on pet policies, owner agreements, a welcome pack of pet essentials for residents, Street Paws patient registration and full veterinary care.
The charity's founder, Michelle Southern, said: "The bond between a homeless person and their pet is well documented and provides many positive mental and physical benefits to the owner.
"Despite this most people who are homeless are asked to give up their pet to access accommodation. Street Paws charity believes that owning a dog should not be a barrier to accessing 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, and we believe that skilling up hostels and helping them to become pet friendly is a giant stepping stone."