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SPCA launches campaign for more 'pet-friendly' housing in B.C.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – when the BC SPCA saw a surge in people seeking the comfort and companionship of animals – the need for pet-friendly accommodation has become more urgent. (via Getty Images)

The BC SPCA is launching a campaign urging British Columbians to voice their support for more pet-friendly rental housing in B.C.

While many people have struggled to pay rent across Canada due to the pandemic, the City of Vancouver’s Renters Advisory Committee stresses that this is particularly true in Vancouver. According to the 2016 census, up to 35 per cent of renter households spend well-over a third of their income on housing.

For renters looking to house their furry best pals, there are fewer options available. This often means that they are forced to choose more expensive rentals, or, in some instances, to give up ownership of their beloved pets. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – when the BC SPCA saw a surge in people seeking the comfort and companionship of animals – the need for pet-friendly accommodation has become more urgent.

“Approximately 25 per cent of all animals surrendered to BC SPCA facilities are given up because their guardians can’t find housing that will allow their pet,” says Meghann Cant, BC SPCA manager of companion animal welfare (science and policy). “It is heartbreaking to see people forced to give up a pet because of housing issues.”

Cant notes that there is extensive medical research that supports the significant role animals play in the mental and physical wellness of humans. “From encouraging people to get out for daily walks, to reducing stress in heart patients, animals make our communities safer, healthier and more humane,” she says

The BC SPCA points out that studies have also shown that pet-friendly housing is a benefit for landlords seeking responsible tenants: “A Firepaw study shows tenants with animals in pet-friendly housing stay an average of 46 months compared to 18 months for tenants in rental housing prohibiting pets,” says Cant. “Not only do people with pets change their housing much less frequently than people without pets, [but they’re also] usually willing to pay more.”  

The study also shows there is no statistically significant difference in damage between tenants with pets and tenants without pets.

“People tend to get to know their neighbours better so there is a sense of community and they are more likely to notice if strangers are lurking around the building, so there is an added security factor.”

The BC SPCA has created an online tool kit to help pet guardians find a home for themselves and their furry family members. Cant says that “The tool kit provides animal lovers with information and details about pet-friendly housing, including the benefits of having tenants with pets, a resumé with references that explain why the pet and guardian are good tenants, and a pet policy that both tenant and landlord can mutually agree upon and sign.”

To voice your support to government and landlords on the need for more pet-friendly housing in B.C., find out more information about the BC SPCA pledge, HERE.

This week, the City of Vancouver’s Renters Advisory Committee plans to address rental the "no pets" clause in rental contracts. The motion, submitted by Councillor Swanson and Councillor Fry on behalf of the Renters Advisory Committee, calls for the prohibition of the "no pets" clause in rental contracts. It points out that British Columbians have been encouraged to stay home and practice physical distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that doing so is particularly difficult for seniors, under-housed individuals, and those who live alone. Find out more, HERE.