Competitive rental market forces pet owners into homelessness

It’s a decision that more and more Australians have faced over the past eighteen months – to keep a best friend or to have an apartment.

Important points:

  • Many endangered Australians prefer their dogs to homes
  • Renters without animals are preferred as fewer rental offers are available
  • Proponents say separating already-at-risk people from their pets will put a further strain on mental health and other services

Record-low rental vacancies have put low-wage earners with pets out of the running.

Each week, the line-up at Tony’s Community Kitchen in Toowoomba, South Queensland, gets longer, and more locals are sleeping with their four-legged companions.

Robert Muller has seen homelessness time and again for the past five years fighting his addiction, but the only constant in his life has been his dog, Arasmas.

Robert Muller says his dog Arasmus motivates him to stay sober when he returns from rehabilitation and treatment. (

Scope of delivery: Furry Friends on the Street

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“She cares so much about me, more than any other person I’ve ever known. She is great and has saved my life on so many occasions,” he said.

“She’s got my back.”

He refused to go to rehab until Arasmas was taken care of.

Then he met Jess Otto, the director of the new service Furry Friends on the Street, which aims to help vulnerable and homeless locals stay with their pets.

“There are so many people I know who live in Queen’s Park or just walk around with trolleys and dogs and things like that,” Ms. Otto said.

“I’ve talked to them and they won’t go into an apartment because they won’t be separated from their dog and that’s not really good enough for me.

“I can’t give them a house, but I can make it easier for them – so de-sexy them [the pets] So that the landlords take them with them, register so that they are not punished, carry out flea treatments to combat parasites so that they do not get sick. “

Mr Müller is currently being treated in a facility in Logan, while Mrs Otto is taking care of Arasmas.

“That was a barrier for a long time … so I found it hard to find her in a place that would treat her with the kind of love and care she’s used to,” he said.

“She is recovering and I am recovering. It will be great when we are together again.”

Pets are well taken care of

A man is sitting in the grass with his dog. Robert Muller, left, has been homeless with his dog Arasmas for the past five years. (

Scope of delivery: Furry Friends on the Street

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He is not the only person who helped Mrs. Otto during the two months of operation. He says demand is only growing for the service that comes from Tony’s communal kitchen every Sunday.

“I went into it because I thought half of them were going to be neglected, but they aren’t, it’s really interesting,” she said.

“These dogs are in better shape than the dogs given to me by full-time workers.

“Our attendees, we watch them, they have their dinner and they give half to their dog. They care so much about their pets because they are all they have.”

A man crouches down holding his little brown and white dog and a bag of dog food. Andrew Squires says his dog, Nala, helped him with mental health problems. (

ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson

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Andrew Squires said he could not have looked after his beloved dog, Nala, without the help of Mrs. Otto.

“[She’s] helped me get vet checks and food and help with jackets and leashes and stuff, “he said.

“It feels good to know that she is healthy because of what Jess did.”

Mr Squires said Nala was helping him cope with anxiety and depression.

Rental problems

Tiffany Spary, a social worker at another soup kitchen in Toowoomba, BASE Services, said it was critical to the mental health of her customers that they be kept with their pets.

“For many people, their pets are their significant other. They experience a lot of loss and a lot of trauma and their pet is their comfort, ”said Ms. Spary.

“We know that pets are one of the best forms of therapy for someone who is going through a difficult time.

She said more real estate and public housing are needed to offer pet-friendly accommodations.

“We see that people with pets are increasingly discriminated against,” said Ms. Spary.

“When you come to BASE, you see more people every day with their dog or cat.”

Two men and a woman stand smiling with a dog. The service at Tony’s communal kitchen helped Andrew look after his dog, Nala. (

ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson

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Remax Success broker Daniel Burrett said applicants for properties with pets in general would likely be passed over as there were only about three homes available on his books at a time.

“If a landlord picks between five and six really strong applicants in a very competitive rental market, some landlords may decide to go [the] Applicant who doesn’t have a pet versus one who has a pet, “Burrett said.

Ms. Otto said while some people would say the logical option is to reintroduce pets, she disagreed.

“Your dog is her best friend who has walked her through all of this,” she said.

“I think a lot of people make fun of them for not wanting to get rid of their pet, but I think it’s really classy.”

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