Simon Community Scotland has teamed up with Dogs Trust to educate and enlighten owners of shelters who disallow dogs on their premises. The charity’s new project called “Paws for Thought” is intended to raise general awareness of the value of pets to homeless people.
Writes the BBC, the document suggests ways and means of allowing people who have nothing else in their lives to keep their dog when they arrive at a shelter.
Advice includes the provision of dog-friendly communal rooms and risk assessments. The charity acknowledges that not everyone enjoys the company of dogs. The guidance also aims to make allowances for people who are allergic to dogs or scared of them.
The love of dogs
Above all, the document highlights the important role a dog plays in the life of a homeless person. Very often when someone has nothing left to their name, their dog is their only companion.
Lorraine McGrath, from Simon Community Scotland, told the BBC, “No-one should ever be placed in a position where they have to choose between a safe place to stay or their pet.
“What makes this choice even harder is the trauma and loss many of the people we support have experienced.
“Being asked to give up the only constant in their lives that gives them company, purpose, security and love simply adds more trauma and loss to an already awful journey."
The project which was officially launched last week in Edinburgh by Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart will address 90% of Scottish homeless shelters that do not allow dogs.
Mr Stewart told the BBC, “It [the guidance] clearly sets out why pets matter and provides practical steps to support social landlords in helping people experiencing homelessness to maintain their relationships with their pets.”