StreetVet, a charity that provides support and veterinary care for the homeless and their pets, has scooped the Purina BetterWithPets prize.
Worth over £40,000, the prize will help kick-start the UK’s first accredited dog-friendly hostel scheme.
“Homeless people with pets are unfairly disadvantaged,” says StreetVet co-founder, Jade Statt. “Research suggests that only 10% of hostels say ‘yes’ to dogs. Yet admittance to a hostel is a crucial stepping-stone towards getting a homeless person back on their feet.
“You can really see the difference for people that can get into accommodation and those that can’t. A hostel gives them access to computers, help with their CV. Also, the chance to find more permanent accommodation. And, it provides a safe place for the dog they love.”
A dog is often a homeless person’s only friend and companion
Up to around 25% of homeless people have dogs which are often their only friend and companion. While many hostels won’t take pets, others that want to are not set up to do so. And, of those that do take animals, provision varies enormously, as Statt found out during her research.
“We really had our eyes opened,” she says. “Some hostels do an amazing job and you can really see the positives of having the dogs there. They benefit everyone.”
Accreditation ensures provision is standardised in each dog-friendly hostel
Statt was determined to start a scheme to encourage more hostels to accept pets and support them to do it well.
“There is a need and it has to be done in a standardised way,” she says.
This is how the idea of StreetVet Accreditation came about. The charity has developed very detailed policies that takes into account all eventualities. For example, what if the owner becomes unwell or has to go into hospital, who cares for the dog?
With the prize in the bag, the next step is to develop educational training and materials.
‘The first year is about getting the accreditation process where we want it to be,” explains Statt. “Then I would like to pilot an ambassador hostel where everything is in place.”
Find out how Petplan Charitable Trust supports StreetVet, here
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