In an effort to get rough sleepers off the street, a strategy was devised to reunite lost pets with their owners and provide them with accommodation.
A vet and two veterinary nurses were able to reunite a 10-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier named Poochie, with its owner Terry Smith (not his real name). When the vet touched her back legs she gave a little whimper and tried to get back to the owner, who hunched over looking concerned.
Smith said: “It’s made the world of difference having her. I wouldn’t fancy living on the streets without her. When I lost Poochie for two months, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t concentrate. It’s amazing how close you get.”
“I wouldn’t have gone in if it meant giving her up”, he added.
The RSPCA had taken Poochie and reunited her with Mr Smith, and gave them both a hostel place during the coronavirus crisis, as part of the government`s push to accommodate homeless people.
Almost 10 per cent of rough sleepers in the UK have pets, but the Dogs Trust said less than 10 per cent of hostels accept dogs. In order to accommodate homeless people with pets, caravan parks and dog-friendly hotels were created to accommodate them as part of the government`s “Everyone In” scheme.
A charity that runs makeshift veterinary surgeries for the pets of homeless people, StreetVet, has 1,060 active patients, including 397 Staffordshire bull terriers like Poochie, 93 cats, two rabbits and one ferret.
These pets play a very important role of companionship and also give the owners a sense of responsibility, despite where they live (in the street or a friend`s home).
According to reports the strategy had some “positive outcomes” and this has been mainly due to StreetVet`s support.