Hope Project

Helping dogs whose owners are homeless or in housing crisis

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope that these FAQs answer any questions you may have about our Hope Project and the support we can offer to people experiencing homelessness or housing crisis, homelessness organisations, and vet practices. If you have other questions please get in touch with us and we'd be happy to advise. 

General

  • How can I get help if I am homeless and have a dog?Please contact us and we'll look at registering you on our veterinary scheme so that you can access free vet care for your dog.If you are looking for dog-friendly accommodation, such as hostels and shelters, we have a list on our website here. If you are finding it difficult accessing accommodation which allows your dog then please get in touch with us and we will see if we can help.
  • I have seen someone sleeping rough with a dog. What should I do?Sometimes, the first step can be to start a conversation with some - taking the time to speak to someone can make a huge difference. If they would like to access free care for their dog, please get in contact with us and we can talk them through registering on our vet scheme. If they're looking for accommodation for them and their dog, we have an online directory of dog-friendly hostels and shelters which they may find useful, or alternatively they can contact us for more information and advice. If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough then please contact StreetLink, or if you are in Scotland you can contact Simon Community Scotland for advice. If it is an emergency, please call 999.
  • Why are dogs belonging to people experiencing homelessness so well behaved?
    We know that dogs belonging to people experiencing homelessness are just as well loved and cared for as a dog whose owner is not in housing crisis. Often dogs will be with their owner 24/7, receiving constant care, walks and cuddles. This can often mean that their dog becomes very used to being out and about and meeting new people and dogs. We also know that many members of the public are happy to stop and have a chat to a homeless dog owner and will often share a treat or two. However, as with any dog it's very important to ask the owner before approaching the dog to ensure they are happy to say hello. 
  • Why do homeless people have dogs?
    Dogs can provide great companionship and warmth as well as a huge amount of mental and emotional support. Being homeless can be an incredibly difficult and lonely time, and someone's dog may be their only companion or family. In many cases, people owned their dog before they became homeless. We recognise the importance of the bond between an owner and their dog which is why we work to ensure that owning a dog is not a barrier to accessing accommodation so that people and their pets can stay together. 

Veterinary Care

  • I am homeless but I am not in an area where you run your vet scheme. Can you still help me?
    We can still help with the cost of vet treatment for people who are not in one of our participating scheme areas. Please contact our Hope Project team so that we can advise you. 
  • A dog owner who is homeless has come into our vet practice and cannot afford vet treatment. What should we do?Please contact our Hope Project team direct so that we can see if we can help with the cost of vet care through our vet scheme. 
  • I am not homeless but I am really struggling with vet bills. Are you able to help?Unfortunately, our vet scheme is specifically for people who are experiencing homelessness or in housing crisis. This can include if you are rough sleeping, living in a hostel or night shelter, in temporary accommodation, squatting, sofa surfing, living in a tent or vehicle, or on an unauthorised travellers' site. If this is not your current situation then low-cost vet services, such as the PDSA, Blue Cross, and RSPCA, may be able to help you so it's worth getting in contact with them.

Dogs and Accommodation

  • Can you help with fostering for dogs belonging to people experiencing homelessness?Our aim is always to help keep people and their pets together. To help ensure that owners and their dogs do not have to be separated, we work closely with accommodation services through our Welcoming Dogs scheme to support them with accepting and managing dogs. If you are fleeing domestic abuse and going into a refuge or emergency accommodation (where in many cases they are unable to accept pets) then please contact our Freedom Project, a specialist dog fostering service for people fleeing domestic abuse.
  • Why don't hostels and shelters allow dogs?There are a number of reasons why many hostels and shelters may have concerns around accepting dogs. However, there are so many benefits to welcoming dogs in hostels and it can really help to remove an additional barrier that a person experiencing homelessness might have when trying to access accommodation.We are always keen to support and work with services, such as hostels and shelters, who would like to begin accepting dogs. Please email us on welcomingdogs@dogstrust.org.uk for more information - we'd love to hear from you. 
  • What can you do to encourage more hostels and shelters to accept dogs?We have been running our Welcoming Dogs scheme for more than 20 years, working with hostels and shelters to accept dogs so that people and their pets can stay together. We are now offering a complete Welcoming Dogs support package for services who would like to become dog-friendly. This includes tailored advice, a Welcoming Dogs consultation, a starter pack of items to help you begin accepting dogs, a complete package of resources, along with access to free vet care for any dogs staying in your service. Once you begin accepting dogs, you will be endorsed as a 'Welcoming Dogs' service, and we'll send you out an endorsement certificate to display in your service. For more information, have a look at our Welcoming Dogs section
  • I work in a hostel/shelter/accommodation service and would like to begin accepting dogs. Are you able to help?It's fantastic that you would like to begin accepting dogs - this will make such a huge difference to the lives of dog owners who are experiencing homelessness. We have lots of information around accepting dogs so please have a look through this (click here) and then get in contact with us for more information on how we can support your service with accepting dogs and becoming a 'Welcoming Dogs' endorsed service.
  • Who is 'Welcoming Dogs' for?A Welcoming Dogs consultation is a free, easy-to-access process where we will take you through how to accept dogs safely and responsibly. Welcoming Dogs is suitable if you operate a homelessness service, including emergency accommodation or a hostel; night shelter; temporary or supported accommodation; day centre or community hub. It's also suitable if you are a social landlord, local authority, housing association or other housing provider. We'll tailor our support to meet your needs as a service!
  • Can I still becoming a 'Welcoming Dogs' endorsed service if my service already accepts dogs?Yes, absolutely! If you are already accepting dogs then you'll still be able to access our Welcoming Dogs support package, and we'll support you in developing your existing policies so that you can become a 'Welcoming Dogs' endorsed service. 

Coronavirus

  • How are you supporting people experiencing homelessness throughout the coronavirus pandemic?With many people experiencing homelessness being accommodated in hotels to enable them to self-isolate, we're working with support services and hotels to ensure that their dogs are welcome too so that nobody is forced to choose between staying with their dog or accessing accommodation. We have also sent out more than 1,200 tins of dog food to dog owners who are struggling with finances over the pandemic. We're continuing to review the support that we provide to ensure that we're supporting dogs and their owners, as well as support services throughout this period. You can find more information on our response to the pandemic here