It is a terrible choice many homeless people across Australia face — keep their pet and stay on the streets, or surrender the animal in order to get a rental home.
Hobart woman Bek Eirth did not seek permission from her landlord before getting her dog Dexter.
She chose to be kicked out of her house and live in a tent rather than be separated from her dog.
Tasmanian renters can face losing their home and not getting another one if they remain loyal to their pet.
“Pets are just great companions, and I was going through such a hard time in my life,” Ms Eirth said.
“People weren’t being nice to me, and having this man [her dog] by my side meant more than having a home.”
The Pets in the Park charity has been providing free health care for Dexter since it started in Hobart in February 2018.
Those in need with pets have been getting more assistance in recent years, including from the A Paw Up service which helps feed and care for the animals.
For Ms Eirth, knowing her dog could get vet care, even when the duo did not have a home, was the start of rebuilding her life.
She said holding on to her pet helped her win her battle with anxiety.
“Pets in the Park helped me by bringing me out of my shell,” she said.
Bek Eirth decided to keep Dexter although it meant she was evicted from her rental property. (ABC News: Felicity Ogilvie)
Ms Eirth said Dexter provided her with the support and confidence she needed to get housing through the Salvation Army, and she now she works as a barista.
The best news for Ms Eirth is the fact Dexter is allowed to live with her.
“He’s like my son,” she said.
“I can’t have children of my own so having Dexter is just so beautiful, like we’ve got such a beautiful bond.
“He knows when I’m sad, he knows when I’m happy, he’s just so loving … and it’s really beautiful to see how much we’ve both come so far as a team.”
But not everyone is lucky enough to keep their pet.
Emma Haswell at Brightside Sanctuary receives the dogs renters cannot keep. (ABC News: Felicity Ogilvie)
With the rental affordability crisis in Hobart worsening, more people are surrendering their animals to the Brightside Sanctuary in the Huon Valley.
Founder and manager Emma Haswell gets calls every week from teary pet owners who are not allowed to keep their beloved animals in their rentals.
“It’s a terrible thing where people can’t find somewhere to live where they can have their dog,” she said.
“People need their dogs. When everything else fails in life, the one thing you’re always going to have there is your dog.”