Pet owners facing homelessness in West Dunbartonshire are to be given help in finding a home which allows them to keep their animals.

Under new Government guidance, landlords and West Dunbartonshire Council will be required to provide temporary shelters with ‘dog friendly’ communal rooms.

Service staff will be given improved training in the importance and benefits of supporting people to remain with their pets and how to work with animals.

Risk assessments will be carried out to ensure staff are not allergic to, or afraid of, animals.

In the new measures which apply across Scotland, a new homeless pet friendly officer will work in partnership with the Dog’s Trust and Simon Community, helping landlords recognise the importance and value of pets to people experiencing homelessness.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “Pets offer comfort and stability and much-needed companionship.

"For someone facing homelessness it is already an extremely difficult time.

"Being forced to choose between their pets and a safe place to live is choice no one should have to make."

Mr Stewart said the report clearly sets out why pets matter, and provides practical steps to support social landlords in helping people experiencing homelessness to maintain their relationships with their pets.

He added: “A person centred approach is a key part of our ambition for delivering the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan, and I’m clear that respecting people’s meaningful and important relationships with their pets is an important element of that.”

Lorraine McGrath from the Simon Community said: “No one should ever be placed in a position where they have to choose between a safe place to stay or their pet. What makes this choice even harder is the trauma and loss many of the people we support have experienced.

“Being asked to give up the only constant in their lives that gives them company, purpose, security and love simply adds more trauma and loss to an already awful journey.

"The great thing is it doesn't have to be like that, being dog and pet friendly isn't that hard. This document shares the experiences and opportunities to provide that approach.”