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Nowhere to go: Finding pet-friendly housing

Imagine having to choose between your dog and your home. That’s the very real decision facing many pet owners looking for accommodation.

Amber Godfrey and her dog Rio [pictured] were living at a young women’s refuge in Cambridge but were recently told, after a change of management, that Rio was no longer welcome on the property. Amber is using her experience to reach out to others in her situation and landlords to help raise awareness for this common problem.

When Amber first moved into the refuge she was informed of the ‘No dogs’ rule and had to temporarily rehome Rio with a trusted friend. But Rio, who has several health concerns, was not happy with the new arrangement. Neither was Amber who describes Rio as her “best friend’ who helps her with her depression.

12832578_2211992022274855_7427457153307773233_nHelp was offered when a new manager at the refuge allowed Amber and Rio to live together again. Amber says, “I took steps like buying flea and tick preventive spray for my room, flea repellent shampoo and carpet stain remover because sometimes he is sick due to his medical problems. I also said he would be kept on a lead at all times when not in my room and that my room will be locked if I was to go into someone else’s room - even to the toilet! All of these conditions I kept to.”

But when the manager left everything changed once more. Amber received a letter under her door informing her that Rio was banned from the property and they were served a 21-day notice to find somewhere else to live.

“I am at breaking point now, I do not want to rehome Rio because he cannot cope without me, and I cannot cope without him,” says Amber.

“I haven't been giving any solid reasons as to why he is no longer allowed and the other residents are upset as they love him too! Rio has never caused any problems.”

Reaching out

Amber, who studied canine behaviour management, wants councils, housing associations and landlords to be more understanding, particularly of the stress it causes to both owner and pet. She has set up the online community Help Keep Our Animals in response to the injustice she feels and for others in her situation.

“The point of the group is for pet friendly landlords to advertise, responsible pet owners to find accommodation, and give advice and support. The response to the group already has been massive. I also want to spread awareness of the problems caused by the 'no pets' rule and how easy it is for landlords, estate agents or other housing associations to write up contracts or lease agreements that can prevent any bad experiences.

“Things need to change. There are endless amounts of animals put into shelters or abandoned because they risk not being accepted into properties. It's heartbreaking for both owners and pets as you as an owner feel helpless and the animal doesn't understand why they are in a shelter. No one should give up their animals because of this accommodation rule.”

Amber is still searching for suitable accommodation. If you think you can help her and others go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/191984541168161/?fref=ts.

Advice with renting

Dogs Trust’s Lets with Pets scheme offers advice to pet owners, landlords and letting agents about renting with pets, and also useful links to help in your property search.

There top tips includes writing a pet CV to provide the landlord with details of vaccinations and the contact details for their veterinary practice, and offering to pay a higher deposit to reassure the landlord that you will cover any damage. It is also important to get written permission if your landlord has said yes.

Go to http://www.letswithpets.org.uk/

Advice with homelessness

The Hope Project is another scheme from Dog’s Trust which can offer advice and support for homeless dogs owners. Sadly, the majority of hostels operate a ‘no dogs’ policy and this forces many people to decide between shelter and their dog – many of whom will choose the latter.

Go to https://www.moretodogstrust.org.uk/hope-project/hope-project