The Blue Cross has launched a report examining the devastating impact poverty, mental health problems and loneliness has on society and how pet ownership is the beneficial link in the chain for so many people.

Experts on these issues will meet on Thursday, 28 November at a conference to address how society can benefit from pet ownership and animal interactions and to call for any future government to recognise the significant positive impact animals can have on people’s lives.

The charity would like to see further scientific research undertaken in this area to enable the introduction of more evidence-based policies.

Changing lives

Animal-assistance Therapy (AAT) is genuinely changing people’s lives and helping to improve their mental health, like Amanda who lost her daughter before taking on rescue pony Jasmine – watch their story here.

Blue Cross wishes to see The Department of Health undertake a detailed comprehensive review into the use of AAT for mental health patients in the UK to help share best practice and identify the areas where it can be most effective.

The charity recommends Community Mental Health teams recognise a service user’s relationship with their pet in any psychological and psychiatric assessments and this is reflected in any care or crisis plan.


The prevalence of loneliness across society is increasing. Countless numbers of older people are living in almost complete isolation and growing numbers of young people are feeling increasingly disconnected.

More scientific research conducted on the health and wellbeing benefits of pet ownership on alleviating loneliness would certainly be beneficial.

The charity continues its work with care home outreach and recommends that housing and care home providers develop pet friendly policies, provide training for staff and share best practice.

Lower incomes

The benefits of pet ownership are universal regardless of income, however there are still significant barriers which make it more difficult for people living on a lower income to afford their pet.

A recent Blue Cross survey of low income pet owners found that 70% would borrow money to cover emergency vet costs and that around 60% of people felt there wasn’t enough support available.

More provision is clearly needed; with around 66% of owners saying they would use a pet food bank in their area if one existed.

Pet ownership should not be a privilege of the wealthy, so the charity has pledged to continue to develop services and partnerships that can help to put the right support in place for when pet owners need it most.

Steve Goody, COO and deputy chief executive of Blue Cross, said: “It is our charity’s aim to demonstrate how important and life-enhancing pets are to people, especially those living in vulnerable and challenging situations.

“With these benefits quite literally saving lives, we are committed to breaking down the barriers that are preventing those in need enjoying the rewards pet ownership can bring.

“We’re dedicated to being a voice for both pets and people and working to ensure the benefits of pet ownership are embedded across all areas of society.“

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