No pets allowed?

Aaerro, Michelle Hermary's Diabetic Service Dog
Photo Credit: Michelle Hermary

Humans and animals have always had a special bond.

For the Manitobans who were renting 125 000 properties as of the 2006 census, this could mean trouble, because many apartment buildings have no pet policies. Bill 218, also known as Fluffy’s Law, is trying to change that.

Dr. Jon Gerrard, leader of the Liberal party in Manitoba, introduced the bill in 2009. In May of 2010 the bill is scheduled for second reading where its fate will be decided.

Gerrard says he was inspired by the heart wrenching stories of owners having to give up their pets because their new apartment won’t allow them. Anyone who has a pet can imagine how awful this must feel.

As one can imagine the law has many Manitobans divided.

Adam Kozak, a programmer/analyst from Winnipeg, is the creator of the Facebook group Fluffy's Law(Bill 218) in Manitoba Should be Dropped. He shared with me a very detailed six-point plan on why he doesn’t like Fluffy’s Law. The most important point is his girlfriend’s allergies.

“It poses a risk to my standard of living. She is not even able to enter a room where [cats and dogs] have been without her eyes starting to go puffy and her throat beginning to close up,” says Kozak. “If a few of my neighbours have cats/dogs, then my girlfriend will not be able to come over to my place without taking medication.”

Michelle Hermary on the other hand is an avid supporter of the law. The Diabetic freelance artist from Winnipeg has a number of pets, including a service dog named Aaerro, two cats Countess and Gerta, and six birds.

“I don't have pets because I just want them. I have pets because they help me cope with mental illness and keep me away from the drugs and booze that is everywhere around me. If it wasn't for my animals I would never clean. Having the animals forces me to take responsibility for some of the things I do around my home.”

Hermary says Manitoba Housing has been giving her the run around about her pets for nearly a decade.

“It's been a hell, making my illness worse and after 10 years of Housing not being able to make up their minds they're kicking us all out so they can repair the complexes. If we come back when they're done, we're not allowed our animals. I can't stay and I don't know if I'll be able to bring my animals to my new apartment.”

With the large amounts of support Gerrard has been receiving, Hermary might be in luck. Gerrard says that over all the support for the law is immense.

“There has been huge support from the public. Our Facebook site as 3693 fans. We are daily receiving petitions and now have many, many names of these petitions from people all over Manitoba,” says Gerrard. “There are a number of people opposed, but much fewer than those who support it. A Facebook site in opposition to Fluffy's Law has 10 supporters.”

One only has to look to neighbouring Ontario to see Fluffy’s Law in action. The province adopted their own version of Fluffy’s Law nearly a decade ago.

“I hear that pets are accepted well in apartments and that because landlords can set rules, the pets in general are very well behaved and in fact many are hardly even aware of the presence of the pets,” says Gerrard. “I think we can achieve a situation in Manitoba which is similar, where pets are well accepted in apartments, and where people are healthier because they have pets in their apartments.”

For more information or to sign the petition supporting Fluffy’s Law visit the Facebook group: Petition to Change Winnipeg's 'No Pet Policy' in Rental Properties.

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Robin Dudgeon of Red River College

  • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • User since Oct 27th 2009, 09:43