How the rental crisis is now taking a toll on our beloved pets

Mar 22, 2024
Amid Australia's rental crisis, pets are becoming the silent victims. Source: Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS.

As the rental crisis tightens its grip on Victoria, a heartbreaking consequence emerges: beloved pets are becoming collateral damage in the battle for rental accommodation.

The plight of our furry companions has escalated dramatically, with reports revealing a staggering 47 per cent increase in pet surrenders since 2021 due to landlords’ stringent “no pets allowed” policies.

This distressing trend underscores the profound impact of the housing shortage not only on individuals but also on their cherished four-legged friends. In a bid to shed light on this issue, Melbourne’s Lost Dogs’ Home has sounded the alarm, highlighting the plight of these animals and their owners.

”It’s in times of crisis when our animals can become our main source of social support and comfort,” Lost Dogs’ Home spokeswoman Suzana Talevski said.

‘”If someone is forced to give up a pet in order to find housing, research suggests this can have significant emotional and mental wellbeing impacts.”

Recognising the urgency of the situation, the Lost Dogs’ Home has launched a pioneering initiative to prevent the separation of pets from their owners.

Under the program, pet owners are paired with a dedicated “pet and family advocate” who helps identify the necessary support to safeguard their furry companions.

”The most vulnerable people have the strongest bond with their pets and are the most at risk of losing them,” Talevski said.

”We hope this new initiative will keep as many pets and their humans home together.”

The bond between humans and their animal companions goes far beyond mere companionship, underscoring the significance of keeping pets and their owners united.

Recent poll results published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Healthy Minds Monthly Poll and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have solidified our understanding that, whether it’s the purr of a cat or the excited wag of a dog’s tail, a strong connection between humans and their animal companions profoundly impacts our emotional and physical wellbeing. 

The poll aimed to better understand how pets play a role in the mental well-being of their owners.

The results showed that two-thirds of pet owners surveyed said that their animals offer companionship (65 per cent), are a true friend (65 per cent), and provide unconditional love and support (64 per cent).

The poll further showed that more than 80 per cent of cat and dog owners were more likely to say their pet had positively impacted their mental health than those with other types of companion animals (55 per cent).

APA President Petros Levounis said, “It’s easy to overlook the role of pets when we’re talking about mental health.”

“But for people who do enjoy the company of animals, they can be a source of companionship, comfort, love, and friendship,” Levounis added.

“I routinely encourage adoption of a pet to my patients who struggle with addiction to alcohol, drugs, or technology.

“We’re also starting to see more and more research around the role that animals can play in recovery from depression and other psychiatric disorders.”

Weighing in on the poll results, AVMA President Rena Carlson added, “As veterinarians, we witness firsthand the powerful bond between people and their animals, and the positive impact pets can have on their emotional well-being.”

“From offering companionship and unconditional love to reducing stress and anxiety, pets can be invaluable sources of comfort and support,” Carlson said.

“These survey results further reinforce the importance of responsible pet ownership and the critical role pets play in our lives.”

-with AAP.

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