Protecting the vulnerable when they need help – and their pets

Working together to protect the vulnerable and their pets

All of us wish to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. For us, that also includes the pets of the most vulnerable – who often play a crucial role in supporting physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

Our nation is a community of animal lovers, including pets of the vulnerable. In their time of need, we must also protect their pets.

Under the Care Act 2014, local authorities in England have a statutory duty to take into their care any pets of someone who is hospitalised (or otherwise not returning to their home) that cannot be cared for by family or relatives. 

Many local authorities aren’t aware of their legal duties and there is a wide disconnect between different agencies and organisations, putting animal welfare at risk. 

The RSPCA believes that no animal should be abandoned, especially the pets of the most vulnerable in society.

We want to work together with local authorities and other relevant agencies to ensure the welfare of pets of the most vulnerable is consistently protected. 

We cannot directly support local authorities in this area as our limited resources are directed at rescuing and rehabilitating animals who have suffered cruelty and neglect. 

However, we’ve been working in partnership with local authorities, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the North West Ambulance Service, and are now in the final stages of publishing a package to support local authorities and relevant agencies. 

Local authorities and councillors can help us protect the vulnerable and their pets by:

  • Ensuring local authorities are adhering to their legal responsibility under the Care Act 2014 to protect the welfare of the pets of people hospitalised. 

  • Promoting our Pets of People Hospitalised package to support under-pressure staff and improve consistency and collaboration.