Vancouver Animal Rights Campaigns (VARK)

Activists Uniting For The Benefit of Animals

SPCA Letter defending pet ownership to unfriendly Landlords: 2500 pets surrendered due to lack of pet friendly housing

A Letter from the BC SPCA

To whom it may concern,

The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) takes the position that companion animals enrich our lives and contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of communities. Therefore we strongly endorse the concept of pet-friendly housing. When responsible pet guardians are allowed to keep animals, they tend to stay in units longer and take good care of their property. This, along with the increased social interaction between neighbours who are out walking their pets, leads to lower turnover of residents, good relationships between
neighbours and better security in buildings.

The benefits of pet guardianship to human physical and emotional health are well-documented. Companion animals assist children with the development of language skills, empathy, responsibility and self-esteem and studies have also shown that companion animals reduce feelings of loneliness,
anxiety and stress.

Despite the obvious advantages of having a companion animal, many strata councils and landlords have taken steps to either reduce or eliminate pets from residential housing under their jurisdiction. Most strata bylaws include substantially restrictive pet policies — only five per cent of rental housing allow dogs, and nine per cent allow cats.

Of the animals who are surrendered to our shelters, we estimate that more than 2,500 are there because their guardians were unable to find housing that would accommodate them.Some strata bylaws and rental agreements attempt to regulate pets by size, in addition to number. This is in spite of the fact that there is no documented evidence, scientific or otherwise,
to support the notion that larger pets create problems.

When a strata council or landlord restricts pets by weight, it is primarily with the intention to prohibit large dogs from being on the premises, presumably because larger breeds are thought to be louder, more destructive and more poorly behaved than their miniature counterparts. But our experience would indicate this is not true. In fact, larger breed dogs are often quieter and well suited to apartment or townhouse living.

The BC SPCA vehemently opposes blanket “no pets” policies, and encourages strata councils and landlords to instead consider a collaborative process to meet the needs of pet guardians and their neighbours. It is widely agreed that it is not animals who cause problems — it is irresponsible pet guardians.

However, the majority of pet guardians are extremely responsible and willing to take whatever steps are required to keep their animals in rental or strata housing. Having clear guidelines/contracts in place for pet guardians can easily ensure that responsible behaviours are followed and enforced.

Some options include:
~ Placing guidelines on where pets are permitted in shared outdoor/garden space;
~ Agreement that pets will be on leash and/or within the control of their guardian at all times in shared indoor and outdoor space on the property;
~ Agreement that all pet guardians must pick up after their pets on the property;
~ Agreement on noise restrictions during late-night and early-morning hours;
~ Designating individual units or wings as pet-friendly;
~ Ensuring that pet guardians complete a detailed registration form for their pet that includes a photo and description of the animal; proof of vaccinations; proof of municipal licence; proof of spay/neuter; tattoo number; letters of reference on the animal from a trainer, veterinarian, breeder, or rescue organization; contact information for a veterinarian;
and contact information for a person who agrees to care for the pet should the guardian become incapacitated; and
~ Ensuring pet guardians are apprised of local strata bylaws concerning noise, and that they take steps to have their pets properly adjusted and socialized for the sights and sounds of life in a multi-unit complex.
We strongly urge you to consider steps that will promote responsible and humane communities which include both humans and the animals who enrich our lives.

For more information on the BC SPCA, please visit http://www.spca.bc.ca.
Sincerely,
Lorie Chortyk
General Manager, Community Relations
BC SPCA

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Image By Ariel Rose: http://circulasuna.jimdo.com/

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