Mick, 37, who lives on the streets of London with his Staffordshire Bull Terrier Benson, 12, was left homeless after losing his job and then his house in 2014.
A homeless person can’t find a place to live because hostels won’t welcome him with the dog that “saved his life”.
Mick lost his job and then his house before finding himself on the streets of London with his Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Benson, in 2014.
He told MyLondon: “Without him I think I would have broken down.
“And he couldn’t survive without me, just because of our bond. We’re together 24/7.
“He understands me, I understand him. It’s the only thing I trust and he’s never let me down.”
But because of his beloved 12-year-old pooch, the Londoner struggled for seven years to find a home.
Their bond has only grown stronger over the years since Mick, who asked to be referred to only by his first name, adopted Benson from his former owner, who could no longer care for him, at the 13 months old.
“How could I tell him no? said the Londoner lovingly.
“When he was three years old, I lost my job, then I couldn’t afford to pay my rent, so I lost my property and found myself on the streets. I wrestled with my conscience about whether it was right to keep him – but he went through so much upheaval that I couldn’t help it.
The duo appeared on the hit ITV show Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs and are known in their area around Liverpool Street and Hackney with the likes of shop owners, taxi drivers and the station owners who are all watching Benson. .
“I’m always aware of it – that people might try to take it,” the 37-year-old said, “Rest and sleep is the hardest thing on the streets – you sleep with one eye open. “
He said: “Everything has to be centered around him and I have to worry about what’s going to happen to him. And then you can’t take him to certain services.
This includes many accommodation options for homeless people. In fact, only around 10% of hostels in the UK allow pets, according to Street vet a charity working to increase this statistic and provide free veterinary care to the pets of homeless people across the country.
According to StreetVet, to apply for housing benefits, a form of address is required.
An inn address is usually used for this, but since Mick said he had trouble getting into inns with Benson, he is unable to even begin the benefits process. He also noted that many housing associations will not accept dogs.
“You are being accused of intentionally making yourself homeless so they don’t take any responsibility,” he said.
“I have been trying to find accommodation for seven years. You have a choice between your room and your pet – it’s not a choice. They don’t recognize Benson’s support as important in my life, despite my health issues.
Mick suffers from anxiety and depression, which he says contributed to his job loss. He thinks he would have turned to alcohol and drugs if it weren’t for Benson.
He said: “He is my escape and gives me something to focus on. He is a pillar of my life and keeps me grounded. If he’s not near me, I feel lost – I feel safe when I’m with him. It is not so much for protection as for comfort. You look at it and you think, ‘It’s not that bad, I have it. As long as I have it, I’m fine.”
He added: “When you are on the streets, so many things can happen. If I start warming up with someone, they can bring me down. It reminds me that there are more important things. If something happened to me, what would happen to him? If anything happened to him, it would kill me, and if anything happened to me, it would kill him – that’s all.
Mick claims Benson’s role in “saving his life” was not considered in his attempts to find a home for the two of them.
Even during the pandemic, he claims he hasn’t been offered a room with his dog.
He added: “I would rather take the risk on the streets with my boy than be separated from him – it’s simple.”
He also says he knows that some people have just had their pets returned.
He said: “Authorities have not grasped the connection between the man and the dog.
StreetVet founder Jade Statt explained that some places in the UK were better than others for homeowners with their pets – but resounding feedback from her customers was that little effort had been made in London .
“They didn’t know that people who have pets and are homeless are much less likely to engage in antisocial behavior because it would end up separating them from their dog. You have a reason, a role, a responsibility,” Jade said.
She added, “Because that dog was everything to them.”
Summarizing his dreams for the future, Mick said, “My dream is to have somewhere to live – a self-contained property where me and Benson can live in our days.”