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Bournemouth charity and Dogs Trust offer hope to people experiencing homelessness and their dogs

A Bournemouth charity which supports people experiencing homelessness is celebrating after being endorsed under the Dogs Trust Welcoming Dogs scheme. This endorsement is given to homelessness services which go above and beyond to allow dogs and help keep people experiencing homelessness and their pets together.

Michael House is a charity which runs a mixed-gender hostel and support services in Bournemouth for people experiencing homelessness in Dorset. To allow more people to access this vital support, the charity has made some of its bedrooms pet friendly and welcomes dogs into its services.

Michael House’s dog-friendly policies are great news for dog owners experiencing homelessness in Bournemouth. In a recent survey of professionals supporting those experiencing homelessness, 70% told Dogs Trust that their clients had experienced barriers for accessing homelessness services because they have a dog.  
Further to this, 84% were aware of one or more cases where someone had refused an offer of temporary or emergency accommodation as it would have meant giving up their dog.

To ensure its pet-friendly policies are implemented with due care and attention to both the owner and the animal, Michael House has worked with the Welcoming Dogs endorsement scheme. The scheme works directly with homelessness services to support them to become dog-friendly by providing bespoke support and ongoing advice on everything from dog-friendly policies to behaviour resources. The project also provides starter packs of dog items to help new dogs feel welcome at homelessness services.  

Through the Hope Project, Dogs Trust also provides free veterinary treatment to dogs whose owners are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, an online directory of dog-friendly homelessness services in the UK, and a Christmas parcel service, where the charity sends out dog goodies to homelessness services across the country that support dog owners. 

Mark Horsford, Chief Executive from Michael House says:

“We are passionate about providing pet-friendly accommodation and removing the unnecessary barriers that can keep people from accessing a safe place to stay. So much so, we’ve recently introduced a second pet-friendly bedroom.” 

Abigail Owens, Pets and Housing Regional Engagement Coordinator at Dogs Trust says: 

“Michael House is clearly a welcoming and friendly service and has been designed with dogs in mind. This service is a great example of how being dog-friendly can be achieved in a safe, responsible, and homely way.  

“For most dog owners, being separated from their dog is no different from being separated from a family member. Many dog owners experiencing homelessness are forced to make the heart-breaking decision to give up their beloved pets just so they can have somewhere safe and secure to sleep.

“We don’t think anyone should have to choose between a bed or their faithful friend, and we work with many homelessness services, to successfully offer dog-friendly accommodation.  

“It’s incredibly important that pet-friendly housing is available at every step of someone’s housing pathway, and we’re keen to work with as many homelessness services as possible so that we can help keep people and their pets together.” 

To find out more about the Dogs Trust Welcoming Dogs endorsement scheme, get in touch on welcomingdogs@dogstrust.org.uk. The team will be happy to share how they can support homelessness services across the UK to become dog-friendly and help people and their pets stay together.