Animal rescue agencies are warning the number of people giving up their pets is climbing.
In Halifax, they say the housing crisis and high costs of living are forcing some families to part with their animals. Those shelters are now reaching capacity as the requests for help keep coming.
The President of Spay Day HRM Society says the region is facing a new cat crisis. Linda Felix says more animals are being surrendered due to landlords bringing in no-pets policies.
“Apartment buildings are being sold and then the new landlords are declaring suddenly that the building is pet-free,” says Felix. “Tenants have the option to give up their pets or move out.”
Felix recently took to Facebook to draw attention to the issue. She posted a photo of a cat named Carlos saying Spay Day had the “heartbreaking” job of accepting him from a crying boy and his family.
“Carlos was just the icing on the cake,” she says. “That day we had already taken in three other cats from homeless situations. He was the fourth.”
The Spay Day shelter is full and it’s not the only rescue facing high demand.
“We are experiencing higher call volume than normal and it’s typically from people who are moving, needing a home for their companions,” says Bide Awhile Animal Shelter Society Executive Director Liesje Somers-Blonde.
She says owners can help protect their companions through responsible pet ownership.
“If you continue to spay, neuter, vaccinate, microchip, deworm, flea and tick treat, maybe landlords will be more open to allowing pets,” says Somers-Blonde.
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Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia SPCA says surrenders of animals are up in the first six months of 2023 when compared to the same time last year.
Animal Care Provincial Director Sandra Flemming says they’re over by more than 100 animals.
“Right now we’re averaging around 1,000 animals in our care at our seven facilities across the province, at any given time or at any given day,” says Flemming. “We have around 230 animals on a waitlist.”
The SPCA says there are three main reasons pet owners give when they surrender their pets including the cost of living, housing, and unexpected litters.
The SPCA says if you’ve been considering adopting a pet that’s in a shelter, now is the time to do so.
Spay Day wants to see Nova Scotia follow Ontario and include a rule in its residential tenancy act preventing landlords from denying pets.
“There are people living in their cars because they can’t get an apartment with their little dog — and a lot of them are seniors,” says Felix. “It’s just heartless, absolutely heartless.”
In a statement, the province did not say if it’s considering adopting the policy, but it did acknowledge there is nothing in the act forcing landlords to allow pets.
“A landlord can introduce a landlord rule—such as a no-pet clause—at the beginning of a tenancy,” says Service Nova Scotia Communications Advisor Geoff Tobin. “They can add/change a rule during a tenancy, but they must give four months’ notice from the tenant’s anniversary date (date on which they signed their lease), notifying them of the change.”
The province encourages anyone who believes they have not been properly issued a new landlord rule to apply to the Director of Residential Tenancies.
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