New Brunswick

Moncton seniors denied their pets

The province has ordered a group of Moncton seniors living in a subsidized housing unit to give up their pets or move out.

Therepeutic horse program operator says move could lead to depression.

The provincial government has ordered a group of Moncton seniors living in subsidized housing to give up their pets or move out. Every pet owner in the building was given notice that they should no longer have pets.

Agnes Burges-Mitchell, one of the residents, said Friday that her cat Lily keeps her from becoming depressed. After being informed that she couldn't keep Lily in her apartment anymore she said she felt lost.

"For two days I couldn't even think. I sat in the chesterfield," she said.

Burges-Mitchell lives in a provincially-subsidized housing apartment.

She said the province also wrote her a letter warning her that she would be forced to leave if she kept the cat beyond the end of February.

She has agreed to give up her pet because she cannot afford to live anywhere else.

"You can't argue with them; you can't beg, you can't plead," she said.

"Or you know, tell them what she means to you. It doesn't matter."

A spokesperson with the Department of Social Development said residents were never supposed to have pets, and that the letters were sent in response to a complaint.

Kim Levy, who operates Dancing With Horses by the Sea, a therapeutic horse program in Lockeport, on Nova Scotia's south shore, is upset over the news.

Kim Levy, who operates a therapeutic horse program in Nova Scotia, says losing their pets could lead to depression in seniors. (Leon Switzer)

She said that pets give many seniors important health benefits.

"I think that they provide [stimulus] for them every single day," she said.

She added that taking the pets away could lead to depression among the former pet owners.

"If they're not stimulated by getting up to know that they have to feed their cat and they have to let their dog out and bring it back in, that person can become very depressed and they won't get up," she said.

"At the end of it they get sick because they have no will to want to live anymore."

Levy urged the New Brunswick government to re-consider its decision, saying seniors who move into subsidized housing have few possessions left, other than their pets.