A ‘VULNERABLE’ Oxford woman is desperately hoping she can keep her beloved dog, after Oxford City Council gave her until the end of the month to rehome it.

Tracy Joel says Freedom is ‘all she’s got left’ of her late partner, who originally owned the pooch, and that her dogs help her cope with a number of mental health issues.

The 51-year-old, from Cutteslowe, was told by the council last month that it has received numerous complaints about bad smells on the flat balcony caused by dog mess. As a result, it says one of her two dogs must be moved out of the council-owned property.

Unemployed Miss Joel admits she did not pick up the mess 'a couple of times' but hopes the council can let her keep the mongrel, as well as her Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Baby.

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She explained: "The dogs help me a lot - if I didn't have them I would not be here, and it is somebody to look after and take out.

"Because I suffer with anxiety, depression and panic attacks, my neighbour comes with me when I take them out twice a day (which) helps my mental health."

In an email conversation about Miss Joel’s housing situation, a council tenancy management officer wrote that 'due to the number of complaints and the period that this has been going on for' they cannot 'offer any further flexibility' and the dog must leave by the end of August.

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The officer added that she had 'not shown consistency with regards to being able to look after two dogs'.

Councillor Mike Rowley, Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing, added: “The council has received numerous complaints over many months from Tracy’s neighbours about large amounts of dog faeces being left on her balcony.

"The balcony, which is on the first floor, is near people’s bedrooms, and neighbours have not been able to open windows in the summer due to the smell."

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He continued: “Tracy lives in a small studio in a block of flats with her two dogs.

"Our tenancy agreement requires people to seek agreement to keep dogs so that we can make sure they are suitable for the type of property and will not cause a nuisance to other residents. Tracy didn’t ask the council for permission to have dogs in the flat."

But Miss Joel says she did ask and plans on keeping Freedom regardless, since 'he is all I have got of my partner now'.

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Via support from local charity Connections, Ms Joel has asked if making the property tidier or moving to a home with a garden could change the situation - to no avail.

Mr Rowley continued: “We have been discussing these issues with Tracy for many months, but regrettably the problem has continued. We have now requested that Tracy re-homes one of the dogs.

"We hope this will be a more manageable situation for Tracy, and end the smell that neighbours have had to put up with over months.

"We will keep in touch with Tracy and her neighbours to check this is the case.”