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Emotional Assistance Pet Act

Volume 635: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2018

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that there is compelling evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that interacting with pets can be beneficial to the physical, social and emotional well-being of humans and that the human-animal emotional bond does not differ from the one that we sustain in relation to close family members; further that the twenty-first century is the beginning of the revolution in ethics related to scientific evidence regarding consciousness in animals—now confirmed that it is astonishingly close to humans; further that mental health services in the UK are overstretched, have long waiting times and a lack of specialist services in some regions; further that the Mental Health Foundation also recognises the value of “pet therapy” in suicide prevention and treating depression and treating depression leading to it; further that there is no scientific research (to support the thesis that tenants who have pets are worse, more difficult or cause more damage to properties than those who do not); and further that almost all tenancy agreements, by default, contain a no pet clause, which is nothing more than prejudiced practice, as a result, people who have pets are especially victimised in their attempt to simply put a roof over their heads in their difficult housing crisis context.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to introduce legislation that recognises the importance of the emotional relationship of man and their non-human family members; further to put the interest of the most vulnerable and the public interest above the right of property owners if the property is a subject of commercial gain; and further that the legislation should allow the emotional support animal access in housing facilities, even when the complex has a no pet policy or breed/weight discriminatory policies.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Grant Shapps, Official Report, 15 November 2017; Vol. 631, c. 3p.]


Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jackie Doyle-Price):

The Government recognise that there is emerging evidence that there may be health benefits to using pets as therapy for people with complex needs, and we would want to see commissioners and providers have the flexibility to be able to continue to explore the benefits of this, as well as other types of therapy and support. This is why we have given Clinical Commissioning Groups the freedom to commission innovative services where they meet the health needs of local populations.

Legislation to enshrine the use of animals as therapy would be disproportionate, in regards to a relatively small area of health provision.

We appreciate the problems that families with pets can face in finding accommodation in the private rented sector.

All private landlords and letting agents operate on a commercial basis and, as for any business, it is reasonable for them to seek to reduce their risks. Not all properties are equally suitable for families with pets and the Government would not seek to intervene in commercial decisions as to how properties are marketed to different types of tenants.