Portsmouth to debate offering free kennel places to dogs of city’s homeless

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Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180470-5)

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HOMELESS people may no longer have to choose between getting help and their pets if councillors approve a new city-wide kennel initiative.

Portsmouth City Council is proposing a trial which will offer those living rough on the streets free ‘boarding’ places for their dogs in a kennel.

If we take the dogs away, even only for a few hours, it will give the homeless a chance to engage with our services

Cllr Paul Godier

The idea is the brainchild of the authority’s environment community safety boss, Councillor Rob New.

It comes after the council identified many homeless people were not engaging with supportive housing services because they did not want to leave their pets behind.

The scheme has been welcomed by independent councillor Paul Godier.

Cllr Godier, who is heading a taskforce to tackle the city’s homelessness problems, said this idea would help.

‘As councillors we’re here for the people,’ he said.

‘We’re here for everything and as responsible guardians for the city that does include looking out for the welfare of animals.

‘For the homeless, these dogs are like family – they’re like their children.

‘Many are willing to engage with us, but only if we can help their dogs.

‘If we take the dogs away, even only for a few hours, it will give the homeless a chance to engage with our services.’

The plan is being discussed by councillors on Wednesday.

If approved, the scheme will be trialled until March 31.

The test’s aim is to see if the proposal could be adopted into official council policy.

This would give free veterinary care to the pets of homeless people, as well as giving owners a chance to visit their animals.

The dogs would stay in the kennel overnight, but would still remain the responsibility of owners during the day.