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5 pets a day surrendered to shelters in B.C. due to housing issues

Advocates want better pet-friendly rental policies

Almost a quarter of the animals surrendered to the BC SPCA are there because of housing issues, says the non profit.

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Almost a quarter of the animals surrendered to the BC SPCA are there because of housing issues, says the non profit.

An average of almost five pets are surrendered to the BC SPCA every day due to a lack of pet-friendly housing in the province and that trend shows no sign of slowing, according to advocates.

The BC SPCA said there were 1,704 animals turned over in 2017 by people who said housing issues forced them to give up their pet. This is the second year in a row that numbers have been that high.

Soaring home prices and extremely low rental vacancy rates mean pet owners increasingly have to choose between a roof over their heads and keeping a pet, say advocates.

Pets OK BC has been pushing the B.C. government to ban landlords from having “no pet” policies for over a year and said in a release Tuesday that the government had rejected the group’s request for a meeting this year.

“Animals and their families continue to suffer and be separated because of this discriminatory policy which only exacerbates the housing pressures across the region,” said Jordan Reichert, with Pets OK BC.

The group says the Ministry of Housing has refused to meet with advocates since the issue gained some public attention at a public rally in front of the legislature in October.

In response to Metro's request for comment, the Ministry of Housing provided this written statement:

"Across British Columbia, far too many people are struggling to find safe, affordable, and functional housing, and the challenge can be even greater for people with children, with pets, or with accessibility needs, as well as those with a low income." 

The ministry also highlighted its goal of building 114,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years.

Currently, about a quarter of all animal surrenders at the BC SPCA is caused by the lack of affordable pet-friendly housing, said Amy Morris, head of policy and outreach.

“What we see most often is people get into very traumatic crisis mode because they’re having to make an extremely difficult decision to separate a bond with a family member,” Morris told Metro in October.

“Imagine what it would be like for a person to give up their kid if they can’t find housing – that bond people have with their children isn’t so different than the bond people have with their pets.”

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