3 March 2024 9:25 PM
The film features Andy Hutchins - who experienced homelessness for 20 years - and his Staffordshire Bull Terrier Bailey

news: Poignant StreetVet campaign reveals how homeless people with pets are forced to spend Christmas on the streets because few hostels will accept animals

StreetVet has unveiled a poignant film offering an insight into the lives of homeless people with pets – and the challenges they face.

The 90-second clip, titled The Companion, features Andy Hutchins – who experienced homelessness for 20 years – and his Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bailey.

Andy, 52, explains how thousands of people experiencing homelessness face an impossible choice of having a roof over their head at Christmas – and indeed at any time of year – or giving up their furry companion because the majority of hostels do not accept pets.

To combat this issue, viewers are encouraged to donate to StreetVet’s The Big Give Christmas Challenge, as part of its #PetsInEveryHostel initiative, which helps homeless people with animals get into supported accommodation.

Running from midday on Tuesday 28 November to midday on Tuesday 5 December, all donations received could be doubled by The Big Give, up to £15,000.

The video opens with a heartwarming scene showing Andy and Bailey, who is wearing a snowman-printed bandana, sitting on a park bench. 

‘There is nothing better than spending time with your pet at Christmas,’ Andy says.

‘They’re part of the family, your best friend, your companion, you just wouldn’t be the same without them.’

Andy goes on to explain that Bailey helped him through some of the darkest moments of his life.

‘If it were a choice between family and a roof over my head, Bailey wins every time.’

In the UK, up to 25 per cent of those experiencing homelessness own a pet. Having an animal to look after provides the owner with a reason to live, a sense of purpose and companionship.

Yet despite this, fewer than 10 per cent of hostels accept pets into their facilities – perpetuating UK homelessness.

The Companion highlights that 93 per cent of those experiencing homelessness would rather spend Christmas on the streets than give up their four-legged companions for a room in a hostel.

The film features Andy Hutchins – who experienced homelessness for 20 years – and his Staffordshire Bull Terrier Bailey

78323323 12799251 Staffordshire Bull Terrier Bailey wore a snowman printed bandana m 9 1701190928072 - NEWS: Poignant StreetVet campaign reveals how homeless people with pets are forced to spend Christmas on the streets because few hostels will accept animals

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Bailey wore a snowman-printed bandana for the film

78323329 12799251 The duo were seen cuddling up under a checked blanket on a park  m 10 1701190934439 - NEWS: Poignant StreetVet campaign reveals how homeless people with pets are forced to spend Christmas on the streets because few hostels will accept animals

The duo were seen cuddling up under a checked blanket on a park bench at nighttime

78323337 12799251 Andy explained that Bailey pulled him through some of the darkes m 11 1701190943950 - NEWS: Poignant StreetVet campaign reveals how homeless people with pets are forced to spend Christmas on the streets because few hostels will accept animals

Andy explained that Bailey pulled him through some of the darkest moments of his life

StreetVet specialises in providing free accessible vet care to pets belonging to those experiencing homelessness.

In 2020, the charity set up the StreetVet Accredited Hostel Scheme, which currently has 24 accredited sites across the country enrolled, with a further 62 additional hostels going through its onboarding process.

The scheme supports temporary accommodation providers to become pet-friendly, allowing owners with pets into supported, pet-safe accommodation.

Benefits of the scheme include staff training on how to work with animals, veterinary care, behavioural support and emergency boarding to allow medical appointments as necessary – alongside food, toys and treats.

The Companion aims to raise awareness of this important issue, while urging the public to donate to StreetVet’s The Big Give Christmas Challenge – a non-profit, charitable website that enables donors to find and support charity projects in their field of interest.

Running from midday on Tuesday 28 November to midday on Tuesday 5 December, all donations received could be doubled by The Big Give, up to £15,000, which will make a significant impact on the work of the charity. 

Jade Statt, co-founder, clinical director and brand ambassador for StreetVet, commented: ‘Shortages of pet-friendly housing is an issue which affects thousands of those experiencing homelessness who rely on their pets for warmth, a sense of responsibility and companionship.

‘The prospect of having to leave behind your best friend is an impossible decision, and that’s why it’s critical to spotlight these real-life issues.

‘Our objective is to create long-term change, ensuring that pet-friendly supported accommodation is readily available – regardless of individual circumstances.’

Andy Hutchins, StreetVet advocate for the human-animal bond, added: ‘The relationship between people and their pets is truly unique; Bailey was my saving grace during my time living on the streets and I wouldn’t be here without him. 

‘We wouldn’t be where we are today without StreetVet and their amazing volunteers who helped keep Bailey healthy and happy when we needed it most.

‘I would encourage anyone watching the video to donate what they can to StreetVet’s Big Give Christmas Challenge and help this outstanding charity to continue its invaluable community support.’

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-12799251/streetvet-homeless-people-pets-christmas.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270

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