We hear a lot about pet owners affected by Metro Vancouver’s rental housing shortage, whether it’s “renovictions” pushing tenants out of their homes or blanket “no pet” policies forcing renters to surrender their beloved companions in order to get an apartment.
Last year alone, 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA because of housing issues, according to the agency. And that number doesn’t include all the other pets given up to non-profit and municipal shelters and rescues in B.C.
Jordan Reichert of Pets OK BC, a coalition trying to end housing discrimination against pet owners, says “this is the worst the problem has ever been” in British Columbia.
While homeless dogs and cats get the lion’s share of attention in the media when it comes to rental issues, pets of the cold blooded variety are falling victim to Vancouver’s housing crisis too.
Richmond’s Reptile Rescue, Adoption, and Education Society (RRAES) is making a public appeal to help find adoptive homes for displaced reptiles that are being surrendered in “record” numbers.
Currently the rescue has 59 pets in their care, including lizards, ball pythons, bearded dragons, turtles, tortoises, and geckos. They are overwhelmed with critters being surrendered by people facing a heartbreaking choice: give up their pet or find themselves homeless.
“These animals were wanted, loved, and well taken care of. They don’t need to be in the system, but ‘no pet’ policies don’t allow room for negotiation, even for an aquarium pet,” says RRAES President Val Lofvendahl.
The problem is so bad they’re going to have to start turning reptiles away.
“We have been operating for 15 years and we have never seen anything like this,” she says. “We hate to say no to more intakes but it is irresponsible to operate beyond our means.”
Here is a list of some of their current adoptable reptiles:
- 9 Ball pythons
- 1 Boa constrictor
- 3 Leopard geckos
- 5 Crested geckos
- 3 Bearded Dragons
- 3 Corn snakes
- 1 King snake
- 1 Mourning gecko
- 1 Uromastyx
- 1 Pacman frog
- 1 Chameleon
- 1 Fat tail gecko
Pets OK BC would like to see a ban on the sale of reptiles and other exotic animals in pet stores to help alleviate the issue of them being dumped into the community.
Compounding the issue is the ease of purchasing reptiles and relative difficulty caring for them.
Reptiles aren’t easy pets, and they require specific diets and environments to thrive. Thankfully, RRAES provides education and support to all of its adopters to set them up for success.
Reptiles are often misunderstood pets, says Lofvendahl, adding that they have many unique benefits:
- Distinct personalities
- Don’t have to be walked in the rain
- Are great for people with allergies
Most reptiles live between 15 to 20 years, so it is a serious commitment.
So if you’re thinking of adding a reptile to your household, there’s never been a better time. The rescue can also arrange shipping to other parts of B.C., at the adopter’s expense.