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Death of John Chadwick after being forced to give up pets sparks policy change

By Luke May

The suicide of an animal lover forced to give up his pets to move into temporary accommodation has sparked a change in council policy.

John Chadwick was evicted from his home of four years in Boxley Road, Maidstone, after his landlord decided to sell the property last March.

The 52-year-old had to give up his dogs Theo and Tinkerbell and a cat, Gizmo, to find a new home at a bed and breakfast in Chamberlain Avenue.

John Chadwick with his dogs Theo and Tinkerbell
John Chadwick with his dogs Theo and Tinkerbell

Ten days later he was found dead.

An inquest heard the loss of his animals was a key factor in Mr Chadwick’s decision to take his life.

He had spent 10 years sleeping rough in Manchester and London before being taken in by the Kenward Trust in Yalding in 2007.

Maidstone councillors have now agreed a rule change meaning people can keep pets if moving into suitable, council-owned, temporary homes.

Mr Chadwick’s close friend Dee Bonett has campaigned for people needing a home to be able to keep their pets.

She said: “I’m really overwhelmed. Obviously I want John back but it’s never going to happen.

“I’d like to thank everyone at the council for taking into consideration my hun’s story. It’s been horrendous.

John with friend Dee Bonett, whose campaigning has helped change council policy on housing pets
John with friend Dee Bonett, whose campaigning has helped change council policy on housing pets

“I’ll continue to campaign. This is a start and I’d like to see if anyone at the council would meet with me to help the campaign.”

Maidstone council owns or leases 66 units for temporary accommodation and is buying another 10.

Where possible, the council will permit people to bring up to three dogs, cats, fish, caged birds or small caged animals.

Applicants will have to sign a contract agreeing not to breed their animals or let them roam freely in any internal communal areas.

Cllr Derek Mortimer, chairman the community, housing and environment committee, said: “It only applies to council accommodation but hopefully it will support our residents in temporary accommodation and provide them with a bit of companionship.

"It shows we support all members of society.”

Government guidance encourages landlords to allow pets in temporary accommodation, the decision however, lies with the provider.

More than 13,000 people have signed a petition started by Ms Bonett to help those losing their homes keep their pets.

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