WHEN you’ve lost your home, having to give up a much loved pet dog can seem like the final heartbreak.
The wrench of giving up a dog which has been a companion and friend for years can sometimes prove too much and owners would rather sleep rough than say goodbye.
Now the threat of separation has been eased by a new scheme set up by the Dogs Trust to help homeless people keep their animals.
Worksop charity Hope for Homeless has signed up to the nationwide initiative.
Mark Barnett, 44, currently in emergency accommodation at the charity’s Queen Street premises, said: “I would rather sleep on the streets than give up my dog Sandy.”
“She’s five years old and we’ve had her since she was a pup and she’s the only thing that’s got me through sometimes.”
He and partner Deborah Jones, 39, who is due to have their baby daughter at the end of this month, had previously been renting a house in Retford.
She said: “We have been here for seven months and it’s been brilliant being somewhere that will let us keep Sandy with us.”
The scheme provides things like leads, dog food and worming tablets.
Owners also receive a card which entitles them to up to £250 of emergency veterinary care.
Mark said: “It’s really good. Sandy needed to go to the vet after being attacked by another dog and she was given antibiotics. She’s got a microchip now as well.”
Kevin Marshall, 54, who has recently been re-homed in a flat on Potter Street, has a 12-year-old Collie cross called Cotty.
He ended up at Hope after losing his previous home in Ordsall when he took on a Labrador puppy which caused problems and has since gone to new owners.
He said: “I wouldn’t give Cotty up, I’ve had her since she was a puppy. She’s on medication for arthritis so it’s really good that the Dogs Trust is helping out.”
“She’s ever so obedient and when I help out the Hope yard sales she always comes with me and so people have got to know her and give her a fuss.”
Hope general manager Sandy Smith said she has always been a dog lover, which is why she was keen to sign up to the new Dogs Trust scheme.
She said: “When you become homeless it’s one of the loneliest times of your life and that’s when people need their pets. Giving them up can be like losing a member of the family.”
“We find that dogs have a calming influence as well and other people enjoy having them around as well.”
The Hope hostel is also home to a cat called Chance at the moment, owned by Claire Leivers, 39, of Shirebrook, who is homeless after losing her council house.
She has had Chance since she was a kitten.
“I’ve lost my house, my kids, my life and Chance is the only thing I have left. We’ve made a promise to look after each other,” said Claire.
The Dogs Trust Hope Project gives free and subsidised veterinary treatment to dogs whose owners are homeless and also gives free advice to dog owners.
It also gives advice to homeless hostels about accepting people with dogs.