OPINION: Pet friendly housing best prescription for COVID-19 fatigue

I am a dog person, but I used to be a cat person.

When I was seven, my parents bought me a tabby cat with a white patch on his chest. I named him Buttons and he was my beloved companion for 16 years. Buttons moved everywhere with me once my parents relocated overseas, but it was really difficult finding apartments that allowed pets. 

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In one apartment I hid Buttons from my landlord until he banged on my door one day demanding I euthanize him. Luckily I sweet talked him into letting the cat stay.

Buttons and I made one more difficult move before he passed away. We had grown up together and I never considered abandoning him under any circumstances.

I sympathize with renters and condo owners who are not allowed to have pets.

Higher rental costs or sub-standard rentals are the norm for pet owners looking for accommodation. The SPCA reports 25 per cent of abandoned pets are due to a “no pets policy,” yet landlords benefit because tenants with pets pay more and stay longer. 

Looking on Zumper and Pad Mapper there are just five rentals in Delta that allow pets and the cheapest accommodation is $2,650 a month. That’s a price only a few can afford. 

I was heartened to hear that Vancouver City Council has unanimously approved a motion to end the no pets policy in rental contracts. It changes nothing at this point, but it’s a step in the right direction. I would encourage the City of Delta to use the pandemic as an opportunity to reevaluate our municipalities no pets policy. 

In the time of COVID-19, loneliness and anxiety is skyrocketing and our mental health is a serious health concern. Pets are proven to ease feelings of isolation and provide affection, they encourage a sense of community and contribute to healthier hearts. 

Walking my dog Rosie is my only exercise these days as I avoid gyms. I couldn’t imagine life without all the benefits of a pet. For my family, owning an animal is a responsibility and a privilege that is hugely rewarding and connects us to nature.

The BCSPCA website has excellent resources for pet owners looking for housing including a renters’ guide. Landlords should consider tenants request to have a pet based on the individuals’ rental history and dependability. 

As we approach the dark days of winter, our furry friends are more important to us than ever. With no end in sight to this pandemic, social isolating is easier to endure with cuddles and wet kisses.  

Ingrid Abbott is a freelance broadcaster and writer who spent way too much time watching dog and cat videos for this column.

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