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Island senior reunited with his much-loved cats in pet-friendly apartment

An Island senior has been reunited with his cats after provincial housing officials found him an affordable apartment that is also pet-friendly. Eric Lapierre was forced to give up his two much-loved cats when he took a spot in provincial seniors' housing last fall.

'It's just great, I'm sleeping better, we're all happy here now'

Eric Lapierre moved into the new pet-friendly apartment a few days before Christmas. (Laura Meader/CBC)

An Island senior has been reunited with his cats after provincial housing officials found him an affordable apartment that is also pet-friendly.

"I was just lost without my cats, I didn't feel good, I wasn't sleeping right or anything," said Eric Lapierre.

"But having them back now for a couple of weeks, it's just great, I'm sleeping better, we're all happy here now."

Lapierre had to give up his two much-loved cats, 19-year-old Red Edward and seven-year-old Rug Rat, when he took a spot in provincial seniors' housing.

The cats were staying temporarily with family, but Lapierre wasn't able to visit because of accessibility issues. (Laura Meader/CBC)

He and his family searched for about a year for an apartment for him, and stressed during the application process with the province that he needed a pet-friendly spot.

When he found out he got a place in subsidized seniors' housing in mid-October, the cats moved in too.

'It's been awful'

About a week later, the building's manager told him pets weren't allowed.

"They told me the cats had to go, I miss the cats something desperate," Lapierre said. 

"It's been awful, just awful without my cats. They're just my life really." 

Lapierre's cats have settled into their new home. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Lapierre's doctor wrote a letter saying the cats are an essential part of his mental health and well-being. 

"We did what we had to do," said Arlene MacDonald-Smith, Lapierre's niece.

"We got in touch with his doctor, got a letter from her stating that he needed the cats basically as therapy and went back to housing."

Christmas gift

Lapierre's niece says it took a couple of months to fix the mistake but the province covered the moving costs and the family is very grateful.

"He's back to his old self, his personality is back," said MacDonald-Smith.

Eric Lapierre and his niece Arlene MacDonald-Smith. She helped him with the housing application process and says they stressed in interviews they needed a pet-friendly apartment. (Laura Meader/CBC )

Lapierre moved into his new apartment a few days before Christmas. He says it's the gift he thought he would never get. 

"I figured I wouldn't get them back, I didn't think I would actually get them back," Lapierre said.

"We lose so much in our old age and we get so attached to them, they're just like our kids," Lapierre said.

'Deeply satisfying'

Housing officials would not comment specifically on Lapierre's case but did confirm there are pet-friendly and pet-free buildings as part of social housing.

The director of housing services said the program matches clients to the units they have available based on their needs.  

"We sometimes must place people in a unit that meets some but not all their requirements while we wait for the right one to become available," said Sonya Cobb. 

"It is deeply satisfying when a client can settle into the unit that responds to their particular needs." 

Lapierre says he would never have moved to the first apartment if he knew it wasn't pet-friendly. (Laura Meader/CBC )

Lapierre said he hopes the government will reconsider its housing policies to allow more people to have pets, especially seniors like him.

"I hope housing will look into it and do something about it," Lapierre said.

"Elderly people need their cats it's very important to them and sometimes it's all they have is their cats."

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