Landlords asked to help keep flood-affected owners and pets together

Published on 10 March 2023.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is encouraging landlords to allow people who have been displaced by recent flooding events to bring their pets with them when they move into a new property.  

Auckland’s January floods and Cyclone Gabrielle have forced thousands of people to leave their damaged homes. With 64% of New Zealand homes including at least one companion animal, the weather events have left many families with pets struggling to find suitable accommodation. 

NZVA Companion Animal Veterinarians Branch President Dr Natalie Lloyd says landlords can help ease this situation by allowing people to bring their animals with them when they relocate to a new home. “Animal welfare is brought into question if people can’t stay with their pets and the worst result is that animals end up being abandoned or rehomed,” she says.  

“Animals want to be with their families and separating them can lead to physical and stress-related conditions such as cystitis in cats. There’s also a tie between pain and anxiety, which can impact on an animal’s mental health and wellbeing, translating to behavioural issues that could make future rehoming even harder.” 

Dr Lloyd says similar issues were faced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Queensland fires, where people didn’t want to leave their homes knowing they would be separated from their pets. She also points out that owning an animal can be a hallmark of a responsible tenant who is more likely to stay in accommodation long term, and there are insurance policies and clauses that can be added to cover any potential damage caused by pets. 

“The main thing is that we don’t want pets and families separated,” she says. “Pets provide important social support which will help people manage the myriad of emotions they will experience during the flood recovery in the weeks, months and years ahead.” 

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has been supporting veterinarians and clinics impacted by the recent weather events. For the latest advice and resources for looking after animals affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and the flooding in the upper North Island, visit: