When Evictions Loom, Pets Are Also at Risk

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The Deshommes’ story has a happy ending: Nova and Luna Bear went to a foster home organized by the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, and the family eventually found an affordable apartment and moved in, felines in tow.

But many pet-owning renters uprooted by the pandemic have had a tougher search.

Andrea Halsey lost her job as an in-home elderly care provider. With schools switched to remote learning and her fiancé working long hours in construction, Ms. Halsey, 24, was unable to find a new job while caring for her sons, ages 3 and 5.

Their savings quickly dwindling, the couple decided to move from Illinois to Pennsylvania, where Ms. Halsey has family and where they believed rental costs would be cheaper. They moved in August, but have yet to sign a lease and are still staying with relatives. The reason? Pet deposits and pet rent for their 43-pound Siberian husky, Jax, has made it nearly impossible for them to find a new home.

Ms. Halsey has no intention of parting with Jax. But she knows that without him, her family, whose rental budget is up to $1,000 a month, would have already found their own place. They have looked at more than 20 apartments. In several cases they were rejected when the landlord found out the weight and breed of her pet. In others, they weren’t able to come up with the required cash, which often included a pet deposit of several hundred dollars on top of a security deposit, pet rent and first and last month’s rent.

“They’re asking us to spend close to $4,000 just to move in, and we don’t have it,” she said. Her fiancé is now working six days a week as a driver for a local furniture company, often leaving home at 5 a.m. and not returning until 8 or 9 p.m. During long days alone with her two young boys, it’s Jax, she said, who has kept her grounded.

“Anytime I’m having a moment and I’m crying because I can’t find a place for us to move to, he’s right there, putting his head on my lap,” she said. “I don’t think he realizes what he does for me.”

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