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Hunter residents urged to have a say about pets in rental homes

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In an attempt to change government policy, RSPCA NSW is urging Hunter residents to have their say about keeping pets in rental homes.

At the present time, landlords can refuse to allow a tenant to maintain a dog, for example, without providing a reason… unless it’s an assistance animal.

But, with 70% of households owning at least one pet, these restrictions present serious obstacles for renters and their companions, often resulting in traumatic and heartbreaking outcomes.

While the rules have changed in other states and territories, the NSW Government is now giving tenants, property managers, landlords and anyone interested in the topic an opportunity to provide feedback, via a quick poll, a short survey or writing a submission.

RSPCA NSW encourages locals, passionate about improving human and animal welfare, to voice their opinions, too.

“Nearly 20% of surrenders are from devoted pet owners who have had no choice but to give up their companion due to a shortage of pet-friendly housing,” senior manager of outreach programs Dr Ann-Margaret Withers said.

“We know that circumstances like these are not a reliable indicator of a person’s capacity to love and care for their pet, which is why these laws need to be updated.

“Sadly, the current rental rules in NSW are also a barrier for women leaving domestic violence situations.

“One of the reasons they delay leaving their abusive relationship is because they have concerns about their pet’s welfare and don’t want to leave them behind.

“Our community domestic violence program helps combat this issue by providing temporary housing and care for victims’ pets, allowing women to prioritise finding safe refuge for themselves and their children.

“Our goal is to reunite survivors with their animals as soon as possible.”

Harvey as a puppy with RSPCA inspector Tyson Hohlein. 

Dr Withers highlighted a recent incident to back her claims.

“A Golden Labrador, named Harvey, was rescued by an RSPCA NSW inspector after being trapped inside a suitcase less than 50cm wide by his previous owner,” she said.

“It was a failed effort to hide the puppy during a real estate inspection.

“The suitcase had been dumped in the fire escape stairwell of the apartment and was discovered by a tradesman.

“Harvey’s owner was prosecuted for animal cruelty.  

“The sad reality is this case is an example of the unacceptable and desperate lengths some tenants will go to, in order to avoid the repercussions of lying to their landlord about owning a pet.  

“Every day, our organisation supports individuals and animals who have been negatively impacted by rental restrictions.

“Thankfully, the NSW Government is giving us the chance to create positive change in this space.”

Public consultation for Keeping Pets in Rental Homes is open until 5pm on Friday 2 December.

Visit https://www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/pets-in-rental-homes

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