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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Housing or your pet?

It’s a question some New Englanders have to face as a housing crisis makes it harder to find a home without pet restrictions, according to the Potter League for Animals.

“More than half of households have pets, so when there is a housing crisis, pets are part of our family,” CEO Brad Shear said. “People are struggling to find a place to live, those people have pets.”

Potter League data provided to 12 News shows animal surrenders have increased 34% since last year. While adoptions between Jan. 1 and April 25 are up, the Middletown shelter says dogs that weigh more than 60 pounds are taking longer to get adopted.

Shear said weight limits and breed restrictions in rentals are partly to blame for that. Homeowner insurance policies also ban certain dog breeds from being covered.

Forever Paws in Fall River echoed the Potter League’s concerns, saying it has a waitlist for surrenders. Director Arianna Silva said they can’t physically take on more animals because there’s not enough space.

“It’s not like I have five surrenders this month. I have five people who want to surrender today,” Silva said Tuesday.

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Homeless shelters and advocacy organizations confirmed to 12 News they’ve worked with individuals who have a harder time finding housing because they have pets.

“Moving would be one of the main reasons [people surrender],” Silva said. “We have a lot of people who have lost their homes and are kind of living in their cars, waiting for affordable housing to open up for them. So they don’t want to sit there and have their animals live in their cars with them.”

Despite the increase reported by the Potter League and Forever Paws, data from the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) shows statewide surrender numbers are similar to last year’s. 12 News has reached out to DEM for comment and is waiting for hear back.

“We are starting to see calls for surrenders all over the state and from all over the region, from out of state, which is new for us, for how far people are having to look to find a place where they can place their animal because so many shelters are so full and under so much pressure to make space in their organizations,” Shear explained.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Negotiate with your landlord
  • Register with housing agencies quickly
  • Join surrender waitlists far in advance of moving
  • Contact smaller shelters
  • Look up re-homing websites
  • Consider short-term boarding

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