It’s hard to have a conversation with anyone in San Francisco these days without two things coming up: tech and the cost of housing. For most San Franciscans it comes down to there being too much tech (you know the Google buses and $5.00 toast) and not enough housing (which of course drives up the cost). While many currently living in San Francisco don’t remember the first dot.com boom and subsequent bust, we were here and we are seeing some striking similarities when it comes to pets and pet-friendly housing and this is not a good thing.
During the first dot.com boom in the late 1990s, people flocked to San Francisco looking to make their fortunes (a bit like many previous waves of fortune hunters dating back to 1848) seemingly forgetting that San Francisco, even then, was expensive and you needed to live somewhere while panning for internet gold. It was during those years that we experienced pets being abandoned at Pet Camp. While we don’t know all the reasons why, we do know that one of the reasons was that life in San Francisco just got too expensive and housing, especially housing that would take a dog or cat, just too hard to find. We’re not saying that these pet parents didn’t love their pets – but it was a tragic situation for both them and the camp counselors as we struggled to locate these pet parents or find new options for these pets. Frankly, we saw more issues of abandonment during the dot.com boom then the subsequent crash or even the Great Recession.
San Francisco is now “suffering” from technology boom 2.0 and pets are suffering too. In the last 3 months we have had to address more cases of potential abandonment than in the previous 6 years combined. The cause is the same — lack of affordable, pet-friendly housing. Now we’re not saying this housing crisis is all the fault of San Francisco’s newfound tech wealth (but after Mark has a few beers he might say that) or all the fault of bad planning by our City leaders (though after just a single cup of coffee Mark might say that) – and frankly whose fault it is doesn’t really matter to the dogs and cats and the pet parents impacted by our housing crisis. It is simply time for San Francisco to consider the needs of pet parents in its housing plan. A City that wants to retain the middle class (what’s left of it) and its families (there are probably even less of them) needs to develop housing that addresses the wide-ranging needs of its residents – including those that want to share their house with 4-legged housemates.
And before you think that this is just Mark ranting, it turns out that the “Publisher’s Perspective” in this month’s Pet Business Magazine addressed this issue. According to Pet Business Magazine there has been a surge of owners abandoning their pets in San Francisco due to their inability to find pet-friendly housing to the extent that the San Francisco SPCA claims that over the last year 25% of the people who left their pets cited problems finding pet-friendly housing as the reason. While the industry magazine was concerned about the impact this lack of pet-friendly housing was going to have on those in the pet industries (veterinarians, pet stores, groomers, trainers, dog walkers etc.), honestly, we’re less concerned about the impact on Pet Camp’s business and way more concerned about the impact on these pets and the families who love them.
Thanks for reading!