Approximately one quarter of all people over retirement age own pets but SCAS research reveals that the majority of care homes and sheltered housing complexes in the UK do not have pet policies resulting in many older people having to part with their pets.
Our campaign aim
SCAS wants to ensure that older people are able to keep their pets with them when moving into shelterd accommodation or a care home. Being parted with a pet during what can be a very distressing time for many people, can have a devastating impact on the individual’s health and wellbeing. And in many cases it may lead to the animal being re-homed or in the most extreme cases, euthanased.
The Pets for Life campaign is urging UK housing providers to consider this issue and put in place responsible pet policies which enable older people to make an informed decision about their future. If you or someone close to you has been forced to part with a pet, or perhaps your care home welcomes pets, we welcome you to share your story and support our campaign.
This issue is certainly not restricted to the UK with academics and politicians across the world campaigning for similar changes. Countries, including the USA, France and Switzerland have already introduced legislation to ensure that older people have the right to keep or maintain contact with animals, whether they live independently in the community, in sheltered accommodation or in long-term care homes. The UK needs to catch up.
Key campaign achievements
- The passing of Conservative MP Nigel Waterson’s care homes and sheltered accommodation (domestic pets) bill in March 2010, which is designed to promote a more “enlightened and responsible” policy to allow pet owners to bring their animals into residencies when they move.
- Support from housing providers: The Anchor Trust, Hanover, Wandsworth Council
- Delivery of a one-day symposium on 3 November 2010, dedicated to promoting and developing the Pets for Life campaign. The event attracted representatives from organisations including Age UK, Cats Protection, Dogs for the Disabled, Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club, as well as a number of local authorities, health trusts and Members of Parliament.
- Press coverage in publications including: The Daily Telegraph, Saga Magazine, Mature Times, Inside Housing and Veterinary Times.
SCAS offers help and guidance to housing providers and they may be interested in the SCAS Pet-friendly Care Kit which offers a practical guide to including animals in a supported housing setting and is due for publication in 2013.
For older people and their families wanting more information, please refer to our Resources section where you will find guidance on finding pet-friendly accommodation and information on the type of questions to ask a housing provider.