Finding affordable, pet-friendly housing in British Columbia – especially in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland – has long been a challenge for B.C. animal lovers. But during 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.
On Oct. 13, the BC SPCA launched a campaign urging British Columbians to voice their support for more pet-friendly housing in B.C.
“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
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, they’re 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.
Greater interaction between tenants who meet while out walking their pets can also have a positive impact. “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 (available at spca.bc.ca/petfriendlyhousing) to help pet guardians find a home for themselves and their furry family members. Says Cant: “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 explains 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., please take the BC SPCA pledge.