Pen­sioner’s choice: cat or flat

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

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.’’

VIR­GINIA FAL­LON/STUFF

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