Published: 08:48, 30 March 2021
| Updated: 15:02, 31 March 2021
It's been four years since Maidstone's John Chadwick took his own life - but his death has been remembered in the House of Commons.
Mr Chadwick, who had been homeless, took his own life just 10 days after Maidstone council found him accommodation that would not allow him to take his pets.
He couldn't bear to be parted from his dogs Theo, Tinkerbell and Gizmo
But his death has not been for nothing. His friend of many years Dee Bonnett has conducted a persistent campaign with Maidstone council which has led to policy changes in the way they deal with homeless people.
Firstly, the homeless are now allowed to take their pets with them when they move into council-owned accommodation, and secondly, if the council rehouses them in private accommodation, where the landlord refuses to allow pets, the tenant can refuse the offer of accommodation without it disqualifying them from further offers.
At the same time, the council is working to persuade private landlords to be more tolerant of pets.
Ms Bonett has also seen her campaign picked up on a national level, in particular by Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP for Romford.
Last October he cited Mr Chadwick's case in the House of Commons, when he introduced a private members bill to end what he called the “cruel discrimination" of pet owners being barred from keeping animals when they move into rented accommodation.
His Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation and Protection Bill is in the process of passing through Parliament.
On Tuesday, last week, the fourth anniversary of Mr Chadwick's death, Mr Rosindell laid down an early day motion in the House of Commons.
It reads: "That this House marks the anniversary of the death of John Chadwick, who took his life on March 16, 2017, after he was forced to give up his pets to move into temporary accommodation; reflects on his life and the happiness he brought to those around him; acknowledges the joy that pets can provide to all, especially to the vulnerable; applauds the tireless campaigning by Dee Bonett to raise awareness of this issue; laments the fact that 200 pets are abandoned every year to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home due to accommodation no-pets clauses; and calls on councils nationwide to adopt more humane pets policies when offering temporary accommodation to those at risk of homelessness and rough sleeping."
The campaign has been welcomed and supported by Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant.
Ms Bonett said: "I'm very grateful to Mr Rosindell and totally overwhelmed at his gesture, which was so unexpected.
"Nobody should ever be forced to choose between their pets and a roof over their heads."