The housing crisis across the WA has sparked a different sort of crisis — and this one involves people’s pets. Animal rescue organisations and shelters across the South West region are reporting unprecedented numbers of pets being surrendered and animals needing help, driven primarily by people losing their homes and struggling to get new places in the tight rental market. Safe’s Bunbury co-ordinator Zillah Dyke told the Augusta Margaret River Times that hard-hit renters were handing over their pets in such numbers that volunteer organisations between Bunbury and Margaret River were struggling to cope. “We desperately need more foster carers to help care for these surrendered animals,” Ms Dyke said. “We’re seeing unprecedented numbers of animal surrenders, and one of the biggest drivers of this is the housing crisis. “People are having a hard enough time getting into rentals, let alone rentals that will allow pets, so people are being forced to surrender animals at an alarming rate.” The situation was causing distress for pet owners, many of whom were forced to choose between somewhere to live and a beloved family pet. Another rescue worker who asked not to be identified said she was now turning away foster animals and feared euthanising pets was a last alternative for some owners. “It’s just actually absolutely heartbreaking,” she said. “And the owners themselves are devastated. They just have nowhere else to turn.” Those sentiments were echoed by Ms Dyke, who said people needed to consider security of housing before taking on new pets. “This is never easy on the person, but it’s also especially difficult on the animals who are separated from their family and can’t understand why,” she said. Meanwhile, social media was becoming flooded with animals needing new homes from as far afield as the State’s north. Real Estate Institute of WA president Joe White said landlords’ attitudes to pets in rentals was slowly changing, but perhaps not fast enough for some renters in dire straits. “Owners are coming around,” Mr White said. “Pets are not the big negative they use to be as a well looked-after pet is often a sign of stability. “(But) it’s the appropriateness of the dwelling, and already it (security for pet owners) is making its way into the leases, but it is a work in progress.” The housing industry was working through new pet laws with the WA Government, Mr White said. Ms Dyke urged landlords to show compassion to applicants with pets. “To reduce the number of surrenders, we strongly encourage people who are renting out their homes to show compassion and allow renters with pets,” she said. “With appropriate bonds and exit conditions written into the lease, it would protect the property owners as well as prevent countless animals being separated from their owners and forcing people into the tough position of choosing between having a roof over their head or giving up their pets.” Safe houses pets at volunteers’ homes and welcomes more help. To get involved visit the Safe Bunbury and Busselton websites.