Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

A Nova Scotia charity wants the province to introduce a new law that would help protect pet owners who rent as they say some landlords are adopting a no-pet policy.

The Spay Day HRM Society says it is seeing more cats and dogs going to shelters, including its own, because of it.

“Even if you live there and have pets and have for many years, they make you get rid of your pets or move out,” Linda Felix with Spay Day HRM told CBC Nova Scotia News at Six in an interview on Tuesday. Her group helps low-income residents spay or neuter their cats to reduce the number of unwanted animals and also tries to find homes for rescued cats.

“So if they force out their tenants in this method, they can move in new tenants at a higher rate.”

The group said the no-pet policy is a way landlords can avoid rent caps. The caps were introduced in 2020 to protect renters from large rent increases during the COVID-19 pandemic and have been extended into 2025.

Felix said Ontario has a provision in its residential tenancy act that prevents landlords from disallowing pets. She said Nova Scotia could do something similar with its act.

‘There is no law preventing this at all’

“There’s no law preventing this at all,” Felix said. “Ontario has a law. It’s far from perfect, but at least they’ve talked about it and have something.”

The call to the province was sparked by a recent pet surrender at the Spay Day shelter, which the charity described in a Facebook post. It was about a family facing homelessness that had to give up their eight-year-old cat, Carlos, who they had since he was a kitten.

“It has been the theme of 2023, so many cats being surrendered due to the awful housing situation. My eyes & heart have connected too many faces with homelessness; nice families with children and pets. It is a desperate situation happening quietly in our neighbourhoods,” the post read in part.

The post included another story about someone facing the loss of their pet because their building got a new owner.

“We heard a story of a lady who rented an apartment for 10 years with her cat, the apartment building was sold and the new owner declared no pets and after 10 years in the apartment the lady had to get rid of her beloved cat. It has become absolutely ridiculous.”

The Nova Scotia SPCA said it’s common for shelters to fill up with cats this time of year because of things like accidental litters of kittens, but the organization says the housing crisis is adding to the issue.

Resources for struggling pet owners

“We are seeing, as well, surrender reasons related to housing and cost of living on the rise,” Heather Woodin, director of programs and administration for the Nova Scotia SPCA told CBC News.

Woodin says SPCA shelters are busy, but are “getting through new requests fairly quickly, so the wait time is not extensive.”

Another reason people are surrendering pets, Woodin said, is because it’s become too expensive to care for them. She said the Nova Scotia SPCA has programs that can help people struggling with pet care, including a pet pantry, veterinary services and a “very busy accidental litters program.”

In a news release on Wednesday, the Nova Scotia SPCA said surrenders of animals were up in the first six months of 2023, compared to the first six months of 2022. The organization said there are more than 230 animals on a waiting list to get into the shelter.

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