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Housing crisis in Okanagan impacting humans and their pets

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Many people are facing hardships due to the housing crisis in the Okanagan and pets are feeling the effects.

As housing becomes harder to find for humans, it has become even harder for pets who are being surrendered at increasingly high rates.

“Right now we’re in a housing crisis and we’re constantly dealing with people who have to surrender their pets because they can’t find housing,” Michelle Wandler from Kelowna Kitten Rescue, says.

“As a rescue, it’s tough to deal with those cases because we don’t have a shelter, we have to find foster homes for them, we mostly deal with frontline rescue, unfortunately there are more and more animals being surrendered because they can’t bring their animals into their new homes.”

While it seems absurd to think that pets are also facing a housing crisis, there are a multitude of ways the crisis is impacting our furry friends.

“What’s happening is that on one hand people can’t find housing that allows animals, especially not affordable housing, but generally speaking, landlords can be very selective of who they rent to because there is such a high demand for housing so they’ll often discriminate against animals or whatever they chose to,” Romany Runnalls of the Okanagan Humane Society says.

“A lot of landlords are selling their own property right now so a lot of tenants are being given notice to move out so those who could have their animals with them are now having a hard time finding a place that allows animals.”

Many pets are being surrendered by people who are moving into new homes that don't allow pets.

Just this week, the Okanagan Humane Society was dealing with three abandoned cats.

“A lady found three crates on the sidewalk in front of a house where someone seemed to have just moved out and they found a cat in each crate with a note on one of them that read: 'This one has a heart murmur, thank you for taking care of my cats, it’s heartbreaking," ” Runnalls says.

Another aspect of the housing crisis is homelessness. Many unhoused people choose to keep their animals with them which results in homeless animals, especially dogs.

“We’re seeing a lot more animals living on the streets with their owners which comes with its own set of issues,” Runnalls says. “We are available to all of the homeless shelters for those that have veterinarian medical needs.”

The volunteer organizations are also rescuing more pets.

“The housing crisis is definitely adding to the pressure of animal rescues because more and more animals are being abandoned,” Runnalls says. “We do have a great team of volunteers and as the demand increases, we are looking for more funding and foster homes.”

To donate to the Okanagan Humane Society visit their website here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Gabrielle Adams or call (438) 830-1211 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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