SCAS members Elizabeth Ormerod & Sandra McCune led a fully booked workshop at the recent ISAZ conference in Edinburgh, Pets in Housing: Global Challenges and Solutions, which focused on the lack of access to pet-friendly housing for people who have companion animals. The workshop was part of a project led by an international Steering Group focused on Pets in Housing issues. Renters with pets often experience hardships securing a home. Despite scientific evidence of pet ownership benefits, and that landlords report people do more property damage than pets, renters with pets face intense challenges. Rental housing experiences of tenants with pets from a global perspective is understudied.
The workshop presented an overview of the nature, scale and complexity of this issue which can have tragic consequences for the owner and companion animal along with a summary of the potential benefits of keeping people and pets together. Holly Dalby, an MSc student at University of Stirling working with the Steering Group, presented her gap analysis of what scientific work has been done in this area and gathered further information on research gaps from delegates. The rest of the workshop focused on building skills and sharing resources to advocate for better access to pet-friendly housing.
The lack of pet friendly housing seriously impacts people and their companion animals, disproportionately affecting lower income households. Particular difficulties are experienced by seniors moving to supported living and by young people seeking rental accommodation. The wider community issues include extreme pressures on animal rescue organisations and staff due to soaring numbers of relinquished animals concurrent with fewer adoptees being available due to pets in housing restrictions. Denying people the opportunity for a bond relationship has negative health consequences, sometimes tragically causing suicide. Pet keeping restrictions also diminish social capital effects. These combined effects increase costs to society through poorer health outcomes and higher rates of crime.
Delegates were invited to make a commitment on the day by completing a postcard designed for the workshop which they were reminded of a month later and offered support to mobilise their actions to keep people and pets together. If you would like more information contact SCAS at email@example.com