London Assembly members unite to support Battersea’s pet friendly properties campaign

London Assembly members from across the political spectrum were today united in their support for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s campaign for more pet-friendly properties in London.

Last November, Battersea published a research report which showed that 21% of Councils and 64% of the largest Housing Associations in London had a blanket ban on owning dogs in flats that have no direct garden or street access.

These restrictions are not only depriving thousands of Londoners of the health and social benefits that pet ownership can provide, but research also showed that owning a pet improves people’s health and quality of life to such an extent that is estimated to save the NHS £2.45 billion every year.

Last week at City Hall, Assembly Members, Steve O’Connell and Tom Copley proposed a motion to support the leading animal welfare charity’s campaign and encourage Councils and Housing Associations to be more flexible with their pet policies. The motion was unanimously passed by Assembly.

Long-standing animal welfare advocate Steve O’Connell AM, who has been a supporter of Battersea’s Pet Friendly Properties campaign since its launch at City Hall in late November last year, spoke movingly of his own family’s experience of owning pets in social housing.

Steve said: “Having a pet can have such a positive impact on an individual’s quality of life and wellbeing. Pet owners make 15% fewer visits to a doctor and are 60% more likely than non-pet owners to get to know people in their neighbourhoods. Sadly, many social housing tenants are prohibited from keeping a pet, meaning that they miss out on so many of the associated benefits.

“We want the Mayor to use his considerable influence to persuade councils and housing associations to bring in more flexible policies which allow a greater number of tenants to keep a pet.”

Michael Webb, Battersea’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs added: “Our research has shown that across London the picture is varied depending on whether social tenants are allowed a pet. At Battersea, we believe the benefits of pet ownership are huge both to individuals and the community, and this is why we are working with social housing providers to help make London more pet-friendly.

“We would like to thanks Assembly Members Steve O’Connell and Tom Copley for bringing this motion to City Hall today and the Assembly for taking the time to discuss this important issue and we look forward to hearing the London Mayor’s response in due course.”

As part of the ongoing Pet Friendly Properties campaign, Battersea offers social housing providers access to their Pet Ready Training Programme.

This is free of charge and provides practical help for pet owning or would-be-pet owning tenants. The programme includes educational courses for tenants planning to get a dog or cat, to teach them to be responsible pet owners before committing to bringing an animal in to their home, and the Behavioural Support Course, which offers hands-on, tailored advice to social housing tenants who currently own a dog whose behaviour, for example, excessive barking, is causing a landlord concern.

You can find out more about Battersea’s campaign for more pet friendly properties, including information on the charity’s courses, here: www.battersea.org.uk/support-us/campaigns/pet-friendly-properties.