Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

How living in one of the most expensive places in the world impacts our pets

If people cannot care for a pet, there are appropriate ways of dealing with the problem.
Vancouver is ranked among one of the most priciest places to live in the country.

Goose, an orange-and-white tabby cat, about a year old, was dumped outside an animal rescue agency last year. Because he is incredibly friendly — he had obviously been cared for by humans before he was abandoned — he quickly found a new family and is living happily. Too many animals are not so lucky.

Metro Vancouver is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. Some people might not immediately think of the impact this economic reality has on pets — but it is significant.

Unexpected veterinary expenses, or even just the routine monthly expenses of food, grooming and associated care, can force people to make impossible choices. Sometimes, people choose between feeding themselves or feeding their pets. 

Taking on a pet is a lifetime responsibility. Of course, things change. Sometimes it becomes impossible, through no fault of the humans, to provide for a companion animal. In these circumstances, surrendering them to a responsible animal rescue organization is appropriate. 

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen animals abandoned in the most dangerous ways,” says Eyal Lichtmann, CEO of the Regional Animal Protection Society. “One cat was recently rescued after being tied to a post in a Richmond park, leaving them prey to dogs or wild animals. A surprising number of animals show up on our premises, left overnight — again, in very dangerous circumstances.”

Housing is the biggest share of most household expenses and the unaffordability of housing has a trickle-down impact on every other financial consideration. 

“That massive piece of the puzzle is not something that is likely to be fixed anytime soon,” Lichtmann acknowledged. “But increased availability of pet-friendly housing, more affordable and subsidized veterinary care, and ideas like making vet care tax-deductible could help reduce the burden.”

If people cannot care for a pet, there are appropriate ways of dealing with the problem. But, Lichtmann said, it should not be left up to the family alone.

“There are some basic things that governments, businesses and landlords can do to help,” said Lichtmann. “Municipal and provincial governments could make it illegal to discriminate against families that include pets. Some forward-thinking rental housing firms, such as Kevington Building, have pet-affirmative policies.”

What some landlords do not understand, she said, is that animals build community within a residential building, which reduces crime and makes life better for everyone. Turnover, which landlords dislike, is reduced when animals are welcomed — statistics say households that include pets move less frequently than those without.

Companion animals are a crucial component of population health — people with pets are healthier than those without. That means it is in everyone’s interest to care for animals, he said. 

“It’s about making sure animals are treated respectfully and given all the love and care they need,” said Lichtmann. “But it is also about the sort of society we want to be. And that depends on all of us advocating for good housing for people and animals.”