A homeless dog charity is pleading with Mayor Sadiq Khan for exemption from Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charges, saying their London services are under threat.
Dogs on the Streets (DOTS) assists homeless and vulnerable people with dogs, as well as supporting London’s emergency services.
Their operations include a mobile vet vehicle and a transporter vehicle to deliver dogs to temporary shelters when their owners become unable to care for them.
Founding director and volunteer Michelle Clark, 52, says DOTS will have to cancel or significantly reduce their services if the current charges continue.
She told SWL: “We are calling for an exemption from the ULEZ charge because we are an emergency service to a vulnerable community.
“Every penny counts with us right now. What is so upsetting is people are donating to pay for our congestion and ULEZ charges.
“We should be cutting costs so donations can go to where the funding is needed, which is with the people and the dogs.”
Some charities can apply for exemption from the charges, but DOTS does not fit the criteria which include that the community vehicle in question has to be able to carry eight people or more.
Clark added: “To me, the animals are a community in their own right. The dogs give our rough sleepers a reason for being, they give them responsibility, exercise, socialisation.
“They give them love. They give them everything that a lot of people out on the street just don’t have within a family.”
Clark said the charity’s veterinary costs were £94,000 last year, making it difficult to keep DOTS afloat when the number of vulnerable people and animals has risen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said: “On Sunday we paid out £40 in ULEZ and congestion charges – that could have vaccinated four dogs.”
Transport for London (TfL) expanded the ULEZ by 18 times its original size from 25 October, affecting approximately 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “It is vital that London’s air is cleaned up in order to protect the health of Londoners, including children who are particularly susceptible to the worst impacts of air pollution.
“Sadiq has provided £61 million in funding for a number of scrappage schemes, including one to help charities receive up to £9,000 to scrap older, more polluting minibuses and, in some circumstances, vans.
“This scheme is still open to new applicants. There is also a grace period available for minibuses operated by not-for-profit organisations, including state schools, and used for community transport.
“Transport for London will be in touch with the charity directly to discuss their particular situation and the options available to them.”
Clark believes the scrappage scheme does not go far enough to cover the costs for DOTS, telling South West Londoner that it would cost about £30,000 to replace their custom-made vet vehicle with a new compliant one.
DOTs are releasing a documentary, ‘Year of the Dog’, which premiers at Curzon Cinema in Soho on Friday 12 November. You can buy tickets here.
Featured image credit: Dogs on the Streets