Welcome to part four of the Strathmore Housing Crisis series. This mini-series documents several stories told by Strathmore and area community members detailing many aspects and perspectives around Strathmore and area's current housing situation.

Strathmore and area residents have been struggling to find a place to live, so much so that some are living on campsites or even leaving town. With demand staggeringly high, landlords have the option to be quite selective, which has led to pet owners finding it increasingly difficult to find a place to live.

An anonymous source who was a cat and dog owner explained there was nothing out there for pets that fit within their budget, which was $1000 a month not including utilities.

"All the places I could afford didn't allow pets. Initially, I was looking for places that allowed pets, and there was no getting around it. There was nobody that was willing to accommodate my pet," they explained.

After a personal incident left this person needing to desperately find a new place to live, they had no choice but to make the incredibly difficult decision of surrendering their dog. While they knew they'd have to surrender the dog eventually, they explained the surrender happened way faster than they would've liked, as the dog was a rescue with anxiety so immediately surrendering it again was difficult for the dog.

Given how difficult it is to find anywhere to rent in general, they had to surrender the dog just to have the opportunity to find a place. Luckily, they said they're in a pretty good situation that worked out, but couldn't share details as they wanted to stay anonymous.

Samantha Ricketts is in a similar situation, as she has two large dogs and is looking for a place to live. Currently living in a tent, Ricketts is worried her dogs could prevent her from securing somewhere to live.

"Either we have to give the dogs up or we do what we're doing, there's no way to keep them. Like the rules on them that you have to have one dog or it has to be under 36 kilograms or you have to pay $500 as a deposit, which is insane," Samantha Ricketts said.

The anonymous source understands that pets can be a deterrent for some landlords, so she understands the need for things like pet deposits. What frustrates her with Strathmore is that the option to do this is extremely limited, so responsible pet owners don't even have a chance to find a place to live.

"I get people are trying to protect their assets and stuff like that, but especially living out in the country, people are going to have pets. That's one of the perks of country living, having pets, having animals, most people live in the country because they love animals," they said.

Having seen the destruction pets can cause firsthand — the former tenant of their old living space caused thousands of dollars in damages — the anonymous source lamented that this gives responsible pet owners a huge disadvantage, even if their pets are well-trained. They would even be willing to pay more per month, but because the option is not even on the table pet owners find themselves left out of the possible candidates to rent.

"In Camrose they charge you a pet deposit, but they also charge you extra per month per animal to cover those types of costs. Here, they don't do that, you either pay a pet deposit or you don't have a pet. But even with the pet deposit, if people screwed over other people it makes it near impossible."

Unfortunately for pet owners, this situation seems unlikely to change quickly, as the current lack of supply and strong demand means landlords can be far more selective. Pet owner Katie Doak summed up the experience many fellow pet owners feel.

 "A lot of people, they're very hard on pet owners. It's hard to see people not trusting animals as well."

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