Pet adoption is off limits for temporary residents in B.C.

Until permanent residency status, local shelters will not allow adoption of their animals

Adoptable cats lie in their beds at Catfe in Downtown Vancouver, available for visitors to play and spend time with them. Lauren Gargiulo Photo
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By Lauren Gargiulo

Adopting a furry critter is not an option for everyone who lives in Canada, but alternatives such as fostering pets can allow those who don’t have a permanent status in Canada the companionship that comes from having a pet.

Having a pet as a companion has been said to reduce stress, increase happiness, and help combat loneliness.

Only people who have permanent residency or citizenship in the country are allowed to adopt from shelters.

The facts

B.C. has 37 shelters across the province. Humane Canada’s 2017 Canadian Animal Shelter Statistics Report shows that in 2017, 45 per cent of shelter dogs and 60 per cent of shelter cats were adopted into new homes.

The remainder of the animals were either returned to their guardian, euthanized, transferred, returned to the field (cats) or among other outcomes, according to the report.

As alternatives to adoption, people can foster, house sit, visit petting zoos or similar establishments. Annually, Langara hosts a destress fest towards the end of the year where students can play with puppies that have been brought in temporarily.

Temporary residents are allowed to foster pets, but they are not able to adopt them.

Natalie Hellyar, who graduated from Langara’s fine arts program in April 2019, is torn about the policy.

As much as she would like to adopt an animal, she is unsure about where she’s going to end up in a couple of years.

“I feel like it’s selfish to adopt a pet if you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing,” she said.

Other options

Catfe, in Downtown Vancouver, a coffee shop that is also home to multiple cats, allowing visitors to play with the felines, most of which are available for adoption.

Doug Ferguson, a cat whisperer at Catfe, said fostering can be a great short-term solution.

Although the policy that only people with permanent residence and Canadian citizens can adopt is not a law, Ferguson said it’s a policy shelters have all implemented for a reason, as they have had problems in the past.

“It’s not anyone’s fault, but there were people who adopted [a pet] with the best intentions but then they have to go back to their country and can’t take the pet with them,” he added.

Catfe resident welcomes patrons to the cafe. Lauren Gargiulo Photo

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