Published: 13:38, 17 May 2021
| Updated: 08:53, 18 May 2021
The tragic case of a Kent homeless man who took his own life after he was refused permission to take his dogs into accommodation found for him by his borough council is now to be the subject of study at a British university.
It's been more than four years since John Chadwick committed suicide just 10 days after Maidstone council found him accommodation that would not allow him to take his dogs Theo and Tinkerbell and cat Gizmo with him.
His case is now part of the animal law module for students reading law at Northumbria University in Newcastle, after the principal lecturer in law, Debbie Rook, contacted Maidstone campaigner Dee Bonett for details.
Ms Bonett has campaigned tirelessly for changes to the regulations after the death of her friend in March, 2017.
She has already successfully persuaded Maidstone council to alter its housing policies so that homeless people are allowed to take their pets into the council's emergency accommodation, and also so that when offered permanent housing, perhaps with a private landlord who won't take pets, they can refuse the offer without its affecting their right to further offers.
Beyond that, Mr Chadwick's sad story has been cited in the House of Commons by Andrew Rosindell MP for Romford, who has introduced a Private Member's Bill called the Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation and Protection Bill which is currently passing through Parliament. It has been nick-named Jasmine's Law.
Mr Rosindell said it was designed to end what he called the “cruel discrimination" of pet owners being barred from keeping animals when they move into rented accommodation.
His Bill is currently awaiting its second reading.
Around 80 students at Northumbria are currently taking the animal law module.
More than 17,000 people have signed an online petition supporting the new Act.
Debbie Rook has written an article on housing, pets and the law which can be read here.
She said: "We use John Chadwick’s story as a case study to illustrate the harm that ‘no pet’ policies in residential leases in England can cause to pet-owning tenants."
She said: "John’s case is especially sad as he was a vulnerable person who relied on his two dogs and cat for valuable support and yet was forced to relinquish his companion animals or face being made intentionally homeless.
"John’s case illustrates the need for legislation to regulate the use of ‘no pet’ covenants and lends support to Jasmine’s law. Dee has done a fantastic job in persuading Maidstone Council to adopt a policy on Pets in Temporary Accommodation and this can now be used as a valuable precedent by
other local authorities."
One of her second-year students, Jay Johnson, said: " I found John Chadwick's story absolutely heartbreaking.
"John's case provides clear evidence that the law surrounding no-pet covenants needs to change to prevent another tragic event like this happening.
"The fact that people are forced to choose between having a roof over their head or keeping their companion animals is shocking and outdated - so many people view their companion animals as part of the family."
"Jasmine's Law, and also Dee Bonnett's work in persuading Maidstone council to try to keep homeless people and their pets together, are very promising developments and show that there is scope for change on a national scale."
Ms Bonett said: "I'm so pleased that some good may come from John's death."