PREPARATION FOR THE JOURNEY WITH PETS
It’s not just people who have to adapt to their new life in Canada. If you have a pet, there are added doubts that arise: “Is it expensive to maintain his basic health care?”, “What to do if he gets sick?” and “Is it easy to find housing?”. Changing countries holds some surprises for those who have a pet, so it’s important to get a lot of information before venturing into North America.
Aléxia Carvalho says that, before boarding the plane from Brazil to Canada, she and her partner, André Uriel Carvalho, both 30 years old, did their homework to be sure they could take Cookie, their Australian Cattle Dog, with them. The couple trained the pet for the trip and hired a professional to help them with the necessary bureaucracies – such as vaccines and documents required by immigration.
In August 2021, André contacted the owners of several rental apartments in Prince George, British Columbia, but only one of them responded. “Most do not accept animals. Usually, the advertisement of the available places already informs if it is pet friendly and allows pets. But a large part of this group requires that it be a small dog,” reports Aléxia.
RESTRICTIONS RELATED TO ANIMALS VARY FROM PROVINCE TO PROVINCE
While in Ontario it is illegal to refuse to rent a property to someone because they have animals, in British Columbia, it is allowed. However, generally speaking, rental prices are higher for pet-friendly homes. Cookie’s family managed to rent an apartment, where they still live. But they had to pay a specific deposit to include their dog.
In addition, paying a separate amount of damage deposit for the property owner in the event of damage caused by the animals is almost a rule in Prince George. The amount of the deposit and monthly fee varies depending on the province, the rental price, and the owner.
The difficulty in finding housing
The difficulty in finding housing was also faced by digital entrepreneur Thaís Beattie, 28, who moved to Prince George with her Canadian husband Benedict Bettie, 29, in 2021. “We have a Golden Retriever, Dolly, and we’ve noticed that pet-friendly rentals are a lot more expensive,” she says.
“In Brazil, people don’t ask if you have a child or a dog when you rent a property. Here you need to be accepted by the owner of the house or apartment depending on your family and your references, in addition to paying extra for it”, adds Aléxia, who still dreams of a house with a larger area for Cookie to be able to live more comfortably out of the cold.
THE EXPERIENCE OF JESSICA AND JUSTIN ON THE RULES ON THE USE OF Safety pet nets ON WINDOWS AND BALCONIES, BECAUSE OF THEIR TWO CATS HOBBES AND MAYA
Another example of an issue related to housing are the rules on the use of safety pet nets on windows and balconies. It’s an important safety item when you have cats in apartments, but it is not easy to find a place where this item can be installed. Depending on the condominium, installing this type of protection is not allowed.
That’s what the couple Jéssica Chaves Cardoso, 31, and Justin Tyler Gage, 34, discovered. “My boyfriend and I have two cats, Hobbes and Maya. Before, we lived in a house and Hobbes was very active and spent almost half the day loose, walking around the backyard,” says Jéssica.
After moving to Edmonton, Alberta, it was difficult for the couple to find a comfortable place for Hobbes that was also financially accessible for them. “We didn’t have a protective safety pet net on the balcony of our first apartment here and I was terrified of the cats going out there alone,” declares Jéssica.
Many condos do not allow this item out of concern in case of fire. To satisfy Hobbes’s need to explore outside, Jéssica says they started taking him on leash walks down the street. After two escapes by the cat Maya to the unprotected balcony, the couple looked for another place to live where there were safety pet nets already installed on the windows.
“Now we are much calmer, but we pay a monthly fee per animal to have the pets, in addition to rent. This is something that does not happen in Brazil,” says Justin.
Jessica also remembers another discomfort experienced by having pets: “In Canada, it is very common to have fire drills in buildings with a certain frequency. So, height is also something to think about when looking for an apartment with pets. That is because we have to go down the stairs with them in our arms. When we decided to move, we ended up choosing a lower floor and moved from the 13th to the second.”
RELATIONSHIP WITH VETERINARIAN
The Brazilians say that finding a veterinary clinic to care for the pets is not a simple task in any part of Canada either. As with family doctors, pet clinics only see their own patients. That is, when changing cities, you need to look for establishments that are accepting new animals.
The biologist Karina Flor, 40, who works at a veterinary clinic in Prince George, notices a lack of professionals in this field. “Where I work, we are already out of vacancies and I know that veterinary is a specialty that is very much lacking here in the city,” says Karina.
According to data from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), it is not just in Prince George that people have difficulty finding health care for their pets. Research shows that clinic owners and other veterinary employers struggle to hire and retain professionals. Annual graduation rates at Canadian veterinary schools barely match the attrition rate of the profession.
THE EXPERIENCE OF THAÍS WITH THE VETERINARIAN TREATMENT FOR HER DOG DOLLY
Even after a year of living in Prince George, Thaís still couldn’t find a veterinarian who would accept Dolly as a patient. She had to make a drastic decision so her pet could be treated for a chronic condition. “My dog has a persistent ear infection and we had to send her with my in-laws to Pender Island, also in British Columbia, where we previously lived, to have her attended to by the vet there,” she says.
Even getting a prescription for the medicine Dolly needs requires her to see a veterinarian in person, something impossible when there are no clinics with openings in the area. Some veterinarians open spaces in the schedule for emergency care, but it is not so common.
Even to get vaccines, it’s not enough to go anywhere. “In Brazil, we’d take Cookie to any vet with his vaccination card and that’s it, he’d be vaccinated. It’s not like that here. When we needed to revalidate his vaccines, I called several clinics and none had a vacancy. Because it wasn’t an emergency, we couldn’t be seen at the veterinary hospital. Finally, I managed to vaccinate him, but it was hard work”, says Aléxia.
Jéssica says she has not had this type of problem in Edmonton, where she found care available, but it is a paid service. In Brazil, there are public and free veterinary hospitals, but in Canada, this specialty is private.
FEES VARY ACROSS CANADIAN CLINICS AND CAN BE HIGH
Many Brazilians choose to purchase health insurance for their pets at prices ranging from 50 to 200 dollars a month, depending on the type of coverage. “The problem is that, in addition to the clinic having to accept the pet, it also has to accept the plan, so the puzzle becomes even more complex,” emphasizes Aléxia.
THE JOY OF HAVING YOUR BEST FRIEND WITH YOU DESPITE ALL THE DIFFICULTIES, IS PRICELESS
The variables are really many when bringing a pet from Brazil or adopting one already in Canada. Despite the difficulties, the joy of having your best friend around to warm your body and heart during the cold winters is priceless.
“I believe that Canadians are people who like to have pets. I see many people with animals and the wonderful nature attracts us a lot. Here there are even apps to see trails and parks where we can take a dog. Cookie loves swimming in the lakes in the region,” says Aléxia. “For us, animals are like part of the family, not just pets,” concludes Justin, who is Canadian.
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