A Garston man facing eviction says he may be forced to become homeless and live in a tent to keep his beloved pet dog after Watford Borough Council said they cannot house them both.
Steve McMahon, 47, suffers from a broken neck and says besides pain and medication his staffie Lionel has been the only constant in his life for the last two years.
But the former British Gas engineer is due to be evicted in September because his landlady is selling the house, and Watford Borough Council has "given an ultimatum" saying they have no one-bed properties that will accommodate dogs.
It has sparked a mass petition from his Garston neighbours, who have taken the fight to Elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill and Watford MP Richard Harrington’s office.
The petition presented to Mayor Thornhill entitled ‘Please Keep Steve and Lionel Living In Our Local Community’ has more than 60 signatures from his friends and supporters.
Steve, who lives in Third Avenue, said: "The housing department gave me an ultimatum - get rid of the dog or we won’t be in a position to help you.
"They said they have no one-bedroom properties that will take dogs.
"You wouldn’t ask for children to get adopted - he’s like my child. Taking him for walks makes me better. And it goes the other way too, he gets distressed if I’m away from him.
"I’d much rather live in a tent in the park than give him up. I’m not making a sacrifice like that."
Steve, who was injured in an industrial accident, got Lionel from a rescue home in 2012. Walking the five-year-old staffie three times a day has become his physiotherapy.
Steve, who has done several fundraising events for military charities and volunteered at local dog events, said he has been overwhelmed with the support from his neighbours and fellow dog walkers.
More than 60 signed a petition to Mayor Thornhill asking her to review his situation.
The petition stated: "As a group we wish to stress that we find Steve to be an affable, popular and valuable member of our community and hope that a way can be found to keep him and his lovable dog amongst us for the foreseeable future."
Mary Kearney, Watford Borough Council spokesman, said: "The demand for accommodation in Watford far outstrips supply which can make it difficult for people to find a suitable home especially if they have a pet.
"The council doesn’t own any housing stock but we work with Housing Associations and private landlords in providing affordable accommodation.
"Very few private landlords in Watford allow tenants to keep pets but this is something that is simply beyond our control.
"We do sympathise with people who want to keep their pets, however our focus is on helping people find affordable homes which in itself is a major challenge.
"The council is always looking for private landlords to work with us and would be delighted to hear from any who would accommodate pets. If you have a property to let, you can find details of our HomeLet Scheme on our website www.watford.gov.uk or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org."