Elderly and vulnerable people should be able keep their pets when they move into care homes as it can help provide company and sustain their independence, Labour says.
Many elderly Scots find themselves separated from their “beloved” companions while making the transition into care.
Labour is calling for a new approach from Scottish authorities which would also allow homeless people to keep their pets when moving into temporary and supported accommodation.
The party will work with landlords, tenants, care homes and temporary accommodation providers, as well as advocate groups, to keep owners and animals together.
Environment spokesperson Claudia Beamish wants to assess the benefits and challenges of it being the norm for pets to be allowed in rented, supported or temporary accommodation.
Ms Beamish said: “For so many, our pets are treasured members of the family, but in many circumstances transitional and new living arrangements can risk splitting people up from their furry friends.
“Whether it is having limited choices in rented accommodation, moving into a care home or sheltered housing, or seeking temporary accommodation for the homeless – all of these people should have the right to keep their beloved pets by their side.
“This can be distressing for animal and owner, and can add to our already overcrowded local rehoming centres.”
Labour wants to ensure that people have the opportunity to keep their pets as a “default” unless there is evidence that the animal is causing a nuisance.
The proposal will be looked into as part of a consultation with landlords, tenants, care home and temporary accommodation providers and advocate groups.
Ms Beamish added that a pet can “keep someone fit and get them outside regularly, keep a sense of independence and provide an invaluable comfort to all.”
The move has the backing of Anthea Fraser, service manager for older people and responsible for Cowan Court Extra Care Housing, Penicuik, Midlothian, which allows residents to keep their pets.
She said: “It’s about engaging with our tenants and meeting all of their outcomes. We want to create a home from home, so if it’s important to an individual to bring their pet, or even to adopt a new pet, we support and enable them to do so. We have a person-centred approach and the staff here have all adopted and embraced that philosophy.”