An estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the UK, and many of them have dogs.
00:15am, 18th January 2020:
It’s so cold there’s a thin sheet of ice on my sleeping bag. I’m only a piece of cardboard away from the hard freezing ground. I’ve only been sleeping out on the street for an hour but it’s so icy it hurts every time I breathe…
I think of what it would be like to be here with my two beloved dogs; trying to keep them warm and safe on the streets - imagining having no choice in the matter - and I start to cry.
I’ve always tried to give something to a homeless person when I’ve been passing by. And I can’t lie, if they have a dog my heart breaks - and I give more. I’ve come to learn that a lot of people think that’s why homeless people keep dogs – to pull on heartstrings. But that’s just not true…
I wonder, as I lie here as the temperature dips to -1 degrees, what I’d do if I lost my job, because the reality is that can happen to any of us.
I imagine how many months mortgage my savings would cover.
I imagine having no family to turn to.
I imagine waking up one day knowing I had no choice but to leave my repossessed home and ask the council for help (putting all my pride aside- and imaging in itself how hard that would be).
I imagine if I was lucky enough for the council to find me a place to stay, I would be told my dogs would have to be sent to shelters- to charities- to a life of unknown where I couldn’t love them or know they were safe. And again I start to cry, because for most dog lovers that’s like being told you can have a home, but only if you send away your child - the only thing good and wonderful thing you have left.
You just wouldn’t do it.
Any of us- ANY of us, could end up here. And some of us might actually face that choice one day- to be with our dogs on the street or to lose them forever. I know what I’d choose - they’d stay with me - and I know like every other homeless person I’ve come across with a dog I’d do everything I could to keep them warm, safe and fed before myself.
And if I ever am in that place, I would truly thank heavens for the charity DOTS (Dogs on the Street). Because I know they’d try to help both me and my dog be rehomed together, and in the meantime give veterinary care, dog food, leads and even toys. I know through them my dog would have a chance at a safe life with me out here.
So from all of us- thank you DOTS for all you do. Barking Heads is truly proud and humbled to be able to support you.
“A lot of people can end up staying on the streets because of their love for their dogs. Temporary accommodation doesn’t always accept animals, and what dog lover could willingly give up their pet? Most of the people we meet can’t even contemplate giving up the only thing that has never let them down.” - Michelle Clark - DOTS Founder
“My two dogs are my world. They bring such positivity into my life. But for people who are homeless, their dogs mean even more. The dogs provide companionship and love in a world where they are often invisible. That’s why the work DOTS does to support these dogs and owners is so important - it keeps these partnerships together.” Pete Wicks – DOTS Patron
To support homeless owners and their dogs please donate to Dogs On The Street by clicking here