The letter from Ila Maber (and dog Robby) really hit home to me. I am the owner of a wonderful little dog, Syd, who gives me untold amounts of joy. I cannot imagine being in circumstances where I would have to make a choice of giving him away so I could have a place to live. Syd also happens to be a St. John Ambulance therapy dog, and I take him to visit patients at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
I have met a lot of seniors who hug him, with tears in their eyes, telling me how they had to give up their pet due to circumstances beyond their control. Not all seniors are lucky enough to stay in their own home. Sometimes it’s due to health issues, other times it’s the loss of a spouse which would make it difficult to manage a house on their own. Some end up living in a seniors complex and others are retirees on a small, fixed income who must rent a place to live. Pets improve people’s lives. They keep their owners happier and healthier and give them a purpose and a reason for living. Seniors, especially, benefit from having something to care for and love, and they stay healthier and more physically fit. Being old and alone can be depressing. I have seen an 85-year-old senior recover from hip replacement surgery in an amazing short length of time because her dog needed her. She was out walking the dog while leaning on a walker, then a walking stick, and rapidly without any aid at all.
It is a shame that landlords discriminate against pets. I understand that, unfortunately, some pet owners are not responsible and have caused damage, but it is not fair to assume that all pet owners are irresponsible. I think a lot of times younger people do a lot more damage. I have personally seen holes punched in doors, carpets damaged beyond repair, walls gouged and everything so dirty that the place was uninhabitable. I must admit I fail to understand how some people have no respect for property and others, but it’s not fair to put all pet owners in the same category, especially seniors.