The legislation that allows the emotional support animal access in housing facilities, even when the complex has a no pet policy or breed/weight discriminatory policies already exists in the US [ref: Fair Housing Amendment Act (FHAA)]. Moreover, the US by the regulations covered by the Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows emotional support animals to fly with their human in cabins without extra fees and charges. So literally we are not discovering an America here.
The petition is simply a trigger for Parliament to introduce it into the UK legislation, given the scientific knowledge at hand and the UK public interest, and to do it urgently due to UK specific issues. I submitted an online petition last year, but due to the early general election all the online petitions were stopped and I had to start over. In September, I once again set up the online petition that was approved and is currently live.
Additionally, I decided to submit a paper version of my petition, known as a public petition, and once I had verified its content/format with the Clerk of Public Petitions, it was sent to my local MP Grant Shapps to make it formal.
Since he devoted his special effort to support suicide prevention, we are hoping for him to read it out to the House of Commons personally, since he found the reasoning behind my e-petition last year as “pertinent and thought provoking” and he offered his help.
Furthermore, following the advice of my supporters, I set up the matching petition on CHANGE.ORG and 38DEGREES.ORG.UK. Signatures collected there I intend to add to the paper petition that is already with MP Grant Shapps. Please note, I am a one person orchestra, so therefore I welcome any help and initiative if you find my idea close to your heart.
More about the reason why the EAPA is in the public interest, and what I meant by the UK specific issues below:
NHS crisis, lack of funds, Depression & Suicide
Research / Data - human-animal emotional bond & "pet therapy"
Article 8 of the Human Rights Act
No Pet Clause – stereotypical mind-set, prejudiced practice
Renting is a business - nothing more
The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness
Mental health services in the UK are overstretched, have long waiting times and a lack specialist services in some regions. Despite this, public spending is focused almost entirely on coping with crisis, with only a small investment in prevention. Mental health research receives only 5.5% (£115 million) of total UK health research spending.
Mental health problems constitute the largest single source of world economic burden, with an estimated global cost of £1.6 trillion - greater than cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes on their own. In the UK, the estimated costs of mental health problems are £70-100 billion each year and account for 4.5% of GDP – according to data published by Mental Health Foundation.
Also according to Mental Health Foundation research, major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.
It is known that more than 55,000 suicides occur in the European Union each year, including more than 6,000 in the UK and Ireland. The highest rates of suicide were associated with depressive disorders. One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
Based on an NHS publication that lists the factors of developing depression, which include money problems, relationship breakdowns, illness, older age, and bereavement, we can confirm that the majority of the same factors are reasons why people are living in rented accommodation.
In such circumstances – based on NHS sources - being cut off from your family members is increasing the risk of depression, so being cut off from your pet is increasing the risk of depression.
There is compelling evidence from clinical and laboratory studies – based on University of Harvard publication - that interacting with pets can be beneficial to the physical, social, and emotional well-being of humans, also studies - involving brain-imaging technologies - have found that levels of neurohormones like oxytocin — which is involved in pair-bonding and maternal attachment — rise after interaction with pets.
Thus, the human-animal emotional bond does not differ from the one that we sustain in relation to close family members i.e. our own children.
The Mental Health Foundation also recognises the value of “pet therapy” in suicide prevention and treating depression leading to it.
There is also Article 8 of the Human Rights Act that provides the right to respect for one’s established family life (no pre-determined model of a family or family life).
We think that the conclusion must be reached that pets are considered as part of our family life and as such protected by the Human Rights Act, especially in the privacy of our own homes (be they owned or rented).
It is more likely that the "No Pet Clause" is based on residues of the social ignorance still present until the end of the twentieth century, when many were still questioning the ability for animals to feel pain, degrading animals to the status of a mere object.
There is no scientific research (actual data) to support the thesis that Tenants who have pets are worse, more difficult or cause more damage to properties than those who do not.
Yet almost all Tenancy Agreements, by default, contain a NO Pet clause, which is nothing more than a prejudiced practice, residues of the social ignorance still present until the end of the twentieth century, when many were still questioning the ability for animals to feel pain, degrading animals to the status of a mere object.
As a result, people who have pets are especially victimised in their attempt to simply put a roof over their heads in this difficult housing crisis context.
Slavery, lack of rights for women did not just simply disappear. In the twentieth century so called "respectable" families that employed Afro-American domestic help were socially required to have an outhouse lavatory for them, so as not to share the same bathroom facilities due to the risk of diseases they were allegedly spreading.
Luckily, we are able to live in more enlightened times, and those people who are beyond our reach for them to open up their minds – are no longer able to openly hurt others as they were prior to appropriate changes being made in our legal system. Changes that were only possible due to the determination of those who said ‘no’ to this type of injustice and discrimination, when many did not even question it.
Improvement of human kind is characterised by the development of its compassion and kindness to each other and to any creature capable of suffering, also how we as a society look after those who find themselves to be vulnerable. So please DO speak up on the subject that in our view should and can be easily and urgently addressed – Emotional Assistance Pet Act.
There exists a mind-set relating to the “good” old times, where a Landlord was usually a member of the lower nobility, which came to form the rank of knights in the high medieval period, LORD OF THE LAND.
We somehow missed the transition that actually in modern times, landlords simply provide housing for people who usually cannot afford to own their own homes or in rare cases choose not to own their own home.
Landlords can easily protect themselves from most scenarios, including any irritation to the property of any origin by reference checking, security deposit and a good tenancy agreement, plus inspections run on a regular 3-4 monthly basis, as well as Landlord insurance.
It is simply a business, a lucrative one, since in England the population density is higher even than in Japan, and there is no visible deadline to resolve the housing crisis (no ownership for this to happen has materialised yet). We have become generation rent, yet private rental services are not covered by any dedicated section of the Consumer Right Act. Actually, besides something about the duty of letting agents (so in a way service providers for Landlords), there is absolutely nothing specific.
Such rather unbalanced settings attract a certain type of people, who set certain “standards”, a type of thinking that then becomes accepted and blindly replicated.
There is no licensing authority to check properties for their suitability before they are allowed to be used for residential rent, as well as during the period such properties are being rented out.
Therefore, standards of rented accommodation are often simply unacceptably low and yet people are forced to pay gigantic rents for them, often scared that if they complain, the Landlord would end the tenancy agreement as soon as possible, as there are many others waiting by for him to pick and choose.
It is also harmful for the environment (i.e. low standards could be poor insulation) and further, poorly maintained properties depreciate the look of our cities. No wonder that it is the only service where no one is even thinking about measuring the customer satisfaction level and the only service where the customers are treated with such a lack of appreciation.
Therefore, we think it is time to change it, starting from introducing the notion to public discussion that renting accommodation is nothing more than a service.
That landlords are simply business providers and the rented property is a home for the Tenant for the period of Tenancy, and as such above everything needs to be protected from intrusions of privacy and the service provided must respect the Tenant’s established family life (no pre-determined model of a family or family life).
Some Landlords do not need to be forced by law, yet some do, also many are simply misled by the “group madness” based on backwards thinking and with no support from any scientific data.
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.
In 2012, in Cambridge, an elite group of eminent scientists in the field of neuroscience, neuropharmacology and specialists in cognitive science and the brilliant astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, all signed “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness”.
It was a truly historic moment as people finally came to the realisation that the way in which we have understood animal consciousness was very primitive and backward, as animal consciousness and human consciousness are of such similarity, that they agreed that we must ask ourselves how we treat animals and why we treat them in the way which we do?
These comments were recorded on July 8, 2012 at 5AM in the Balfour Room at the Hotel du Vin, in Cambridge, UK, hours following the historic signing of the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in the presence of Stephen Hawking and the CBS 60 minutes camera crew, an event which came at the end of the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals, held in Cambridge, UK, at the University of Cambridge on July 7, 2012. For the reading of the Cambridge Declaration at the FCMC, visit: https://youtu.be/RSbom5MsfNM.
The petition of residents of 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 specialist services in some regions; further that the Mental Health Foundation also recognises the value of “pet therapy” in suicide prevention 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 a prejudiced practice, as a result, people who have pets are especially victimised in their attempt to simply put a roof over their heads in this difficult housing crisis context.
Therefore, the petitioners 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 the 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 petitioner remain, etc.