Pensioner’s choice: cat or flat
Robyn Nielsen has a tough decision to make – her cat or her flat.
The 66-year-old received a letter from Wellington City Council telling her she had to get rid of her moggy, named Me, or risk losing her home.
She was told about the no-pets policy in the Moana Court flats in Porirua before she moved in, but said she was confused when she saw other tenants owned cats.
Now she hopes the council will make an exception. ‘‘I know I don’t have a leg to stand on, but I don’t see how me having a cat hurts anybody.’’
Despite the letter, a spokeswoman for the council – which manages the flats on behalf of Porirua City Council – said it had no intention of evicting Nielsen. However, an exception would not be made.
‘‘We will meet with Mrs Nielsen to discuss the best options for rehoming her cat.’’
Wellington City Council took over management of the flats in 2013, and banned pets from council properties the following year.
‘‘We made the decision that any new tenants would not be allowed to keep pets,’’ the spokeswoman said. ‘‘But it wasn’t fair to the tenants already in the building with pets to expect them to rehome the pets they already had.’’
Nielsen, a pensioner, said councils should allow older people to keep a pet for company.
She adopted the speyed and vaccinated two-year-old cat after her partner died, and its company stopped her from being lonely, she said.
‘‘She’s like a baby to me and I don’t know what to do. I can’t stop crying.’’
She said it was unfair some tenants could keep pets, and there should be ‘‘one rule’’ for everybody.
Andrea Midgen, head of the New Zealand SPCA, said Nielsen’s story was a common, and heartbreaking, one.
‘‘It’s happening to people in council and state housing as well as people who are renting privately because landlords won’t allow pets.’’
The organisation would ‘‘absolutely’’ like to see more leniency in allowing tenants to keep pets, she said.
‘‘A big reason for an older person to get out of bed in the morning is to feed the cat or dog, and when you take that away from them it’s just sad.’’