StreetVet, a charity that provides support to the homeless and their dogs, has been working with hostels to help make them more dog-friendly.
The charity recently won an international Dragons Den style event to kick-start a hostel accreditation scheme.
Roxy, the rottweiler cross, had been sleeping rough with Nick for several years. They were inseparable.
In March 2019 they were seen on an outreach and registered with StreetVet. In May 2019, Nick ended up in hospital after being bitten on the hand by an insect or spider, whilst sleeping rough by a river. The wound became progressively more painful and infection quickly took hold. Surgeons ended up having to amputate part of Nick’s hand to save his life.
A new homeless support hostel had recently set up locally. With the help, advice and reassurance of StreetVet they were willing to try having one person in with their dog at a time, for a few weeks at a time. We had got Roxy into a local kennels to stay safe until Nick was discharged from hospital. But as soon as Nick was out, he wanted Roxy back. He was going to sleep rough, with a huge dressing on his hand, with Roxy, while still recovering from severe infection, major surgery and extremely vulnerable to the very poor weather that had been forecast.
The StreetVet team had got to know the staff at the new hostel. The StreetVet team had got to know Nick and Roxy. Nick and Roxy were completely unknown to the hostel staff. The same day that Nick was discharged from hospital, we were able to help persuade the hostel to accept Nick and Roxy in there, providing a reference of the good character of both human and dog, whilst reassuring both parties that if Nick ended up back in hopsital, StreetVet had a plan in place to keep Roxy safe until they could be reunited. We provided a crate, some dog bedding and dog food, as well as ongoing free accessible vet care.
All went so well that weeks turned into months. Nick and Roxy lived happily under a roof together in that hostel.
Nick was admitted to hospital with a severe spinal cord infection
In September 2019, Nick became suddenly unwell. He was admitted into hospital with a severe spinal cord infection. Roxy was looked after from that day by volunteers on the StreetVet team and associated local kennels, ready to return to Nick when he was well enough. This was the main reason that Nick stayed in hospital for the duration of treatment. He knew his dog was safe, and that he would get her back again. Things became very serious, and Nick ended up remaining in hospital for over two months. The hostel they had been living in couldn’t justify keeping the room available, not knowing if, or when, Nick would be discharged. So eventually, they were forced to give up the room to another vulnerable homeless person. But as things had gone well with StreetVet support for Nick and Roxy living there, they took in someone else with a dog.
This left Nick and Roxy’s future up in the air. StreetVet were able to work with a team that were trying to find somewhere else for them to live together once discharged. Nick was finally getting better, but 2 months had passed and time was running out… Just in time, another hostel, who had heard how well StreetVet supported the other hostel, agreed to let Nick and Roxy have one of their supported accomodation rooms. The room Nick and Roxy still live happily, warmly and safely in together today, along with Nick’s girlfriend Lucy.
Breaking down barriers, solving problems and supporting hostels
The new hostel is over one year old now. Recently they contacted us to say that they had another tenant with a dog, at the same time as the other person with a dog. They’d doubled their dog policy!
The homeless charity that we worked with to get Nick and Roxy into the hostel they are currently living in together, told us that they are going to write a testimonial that may encourage other accommodation providers to allow people to move in with their dogs too.
StreetVet is breaking down barriers, solving problems and supporting hostels in ways that we hope will eventually make the awful choice between sleeping rough with their dogs, or getting hostel accommodation but never again seeing the one thing that keeps them going, a choice that people experiencing homelessness will never have to make again.
The StreetVet video was created by HelpFilm – a video production company that creates films to give charities a voice.
Find out more about how Petplan Charitable Trust is helping StreetVet, here
Read more news stories, here