Thousands of animals across the country are being abandoned every year because landlords are unwilling to rent homes to people with pets, the RSPCA says.
The RSPCA manages about 160,000 animals Australia-wide each year, and the charity’s ACT chief Michael Linke says shelters are bursting at the seams because changing living situations mean people can no longer stay with their pets.
“It’s unfair someone’s expected to surrender an animal under those circumstances,” he said.
“It’s a heartbreaking thing. I’ve sat in the room with people as they’re surrendering their animals; they don’t want to do it but their choices have been limited.
“It’s their only option because of pressure on rental accommodation, and they’ve taken that difficult decision.
“It’s heartbreaking for our staff, but then we’ve got the double whammy because we then need to find a home for that animal.”
Mr Linke says pet owners struggle trying to rent private and single-dwelling houses the most.
“We’ve been calling on the Real Estate Institute and private land-holders to loosen the ties a bit and be more forthcoming in allowing people with pets to find accommodation, because we’re finding a lot of people are surrendering animals to move into free-standing houses,” he said.
Jacqui Limberger and her partner Ryan Blunden created a software application which helps find pet-friendly rentals on realestate.com and domain.com.
Their website also helps pet owners write a resume for their furry friends, to help give them a better shot of being approved by real estate agents.
“Research has show a lot of landlords and agents may not even consider letting to someone with a pet until they’ve seen its credentials and references from other landlords,” Jacqui says.
“It gives applicants another piece of evidence to say ‘My pet’s not a problem, I’m a good tenant and I take responsibility for my pet.’
“It’s about providing people with information and resources, so landlords see pet renting doesn’t have to be a problem and also to help applicants put their best foot forward.”
But there may be some good news for pet lovers.
The RSPCA’s Mr Linke says that these days, there’s more chance of then being approved to rent units and apartments, and a new study has found you don’t necessarily need a big back yard to own a dog or cat.
Susie Willis from the Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS) says a recent study of 800 people found pets and owners who live in units are just as happy as those who have backyards.
“There are some breeds of dogs that really fit indoor living – like pugs, whippets, french bulldogs – that don’t actually like it too hot or too cold, so being indoors is ideal for them,” she said.
“Toilet training is obviously important but the reality is, most healthy adult dogs can be quite happy with two or three toilet breaks a day.”
She says there’s no reason for people who live in a small inner-city place to not have a pet, and the PIAS has put out a ‘how to’ guide to help people out.
“We’ve got tips on how to prevent people from becoming bored, exercise, how to create a pet-friendly environment,” she said.
“The whole point is, you can keep dogs without a backyard, but you do have to be careful with the way you manage the situation.
“We go through things from what to think about when choosing a dog or cat, how to find reliable sources to get them, what to think about when deciding on different breeds, and then we look at common problems and give tips and advice on how to solve issues.
“We also look at rental situations because it can be difficult to own pets in that situations.
“One of the things we’re conscious of doing is trying to make sure that people don’t get the wrong sort of pet and they don’t get a pet if they can’t give the necessary commitment to its ongoing care.”
Story By Cassie White – ABC News