Cassie’s entire family belongs together.

Pets have always been a huge part of my life and always will be, however, having a dog while renting has caused me plenty of heartaches.

I got my dog, Kenji, right before I found out I was pregnant. I had been battling depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after fleeing a domestic violence situation. I was medicated and attending regular psychology sessions, but nothing helped me quite like Kenji. Words can’t explain how her unconditional love helped me. She let me feel secure and safe in my home.  She let me feel peace again.

I have never received any complaints about my dog, I have good pet references from my previous landlord, and Kenji is registered with the local council and her healthcare needs are met. Despite being a responsible pet owner, and always receiving my full bond back when moving, renting with a dog has been difficult.

Last year, I was a few days off becoming homeless with my one-year-old baby and Kenji. I simply couldn’t find anywhere to live that would permit pets.

I had been approved for National Renting Assistance Scheme (NRAS) housing and was also on the social housing register. But all the listings refused pets.

I was greatly upset, and couldn’t understand why the government would discriminate against my need to keep my dog. My family began to pressure me to give up Kenji, but I couldn’t.

In the end, I got lucky. My mother stepped in and offered to put her name on a lease with me and subsidise my rent by $50 a week. Not everyone has this luxury, and to be honest, I still can’t afford the rent I’m paying but it was all I could find that would allow me to keep my dog.

Each week I juggle bills, requesting extensions for payments, and some weeks I have requested assistance from various emergency relief organisations to buy food and petrol. But my rent is always my priority and is always paid on time.

My baby is now two-years-old and starting childcare so I can finish studying and apply for work. I need to improve my financial situation before I drown in bills. The struggle is real. I feel desperate for those who do not have a family member to help, as I did.

I want the government to support renters to own a pet. Homeowners are allowed pets, but not me. If it weren’t for my dog, I wonder if I would still be here today. Kenji is my world, and my daughter adores her too.

I am proud to say that these days, my PTSD and anxiety are in remission, and I believe Kenji had a role in that. Pets are life-saving, and I am thankful you are all highlighting this issue. I hope we can make real progress. Cassie


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