Should a family of five living in a compact, subsidized apartment have two cats and a dog?

NEWS AND COMMENT: The Sun reports on the story of a family of five with two cats and a dog living in a mouldy flat in Manchester, UK. They want a three-bedroom house from the housing association from which they rent their home at a subsidised rate. They say they can't go on living in their housing association apartment because a daughter is suffering from health problems because of the mould. We don't know what is causing the mould but it might be condensation because after all there are eight sentient beings in their apartment breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide!

Mum Charlotte says she cries herself to sleep as she's so desperate for her young family - and their three pets - to leave their cramped flat in Greater Manchester
Mum Charlotte says she cries herself to sleep as she's so desperate for her young family - and their three pets - to leave their cramped flat in Greater Manchester. Photo: The Sun newspaper.

But the question I always have when I read the stories is whether this family is in a proper position to adopt (or have) two cats and a dog. Many people would agree with me and say that they were never going to be in a position financially and in terms of accommodation to be able to properly care for three companion animals.

They are unable to care properly for their children without financial and accommodation support. They have to rely on the housing association to provide a home for them. That's okay. That's fully acceptable as some people have a difficult start in life but it is not clever to burden yourself further with six mouths to feed i.e. three children and three companion animals when you can foresee financial issues.

If financially they qualified for a housing association flat, they could have restricted their family to one child perhaps and perhaps one cat. That would be a state of affairs which fitted their apparent budget. But they seem to have gone over their budget and knowingly relied on the local authority to back them up financially. And the housing association is reluctant to take action. And it seems that they have gone to the press for assistance in pushing the housing association into taking some steps to rehome them.

I don't think people should have 3-child families and three pets on the basis they have to rely on subsidies to make it work. If you are self-sufficient, you can have as large a family as you like and as many cats and dogs as you like provided you look after them well. If you rely on a third party - the housing association or the council - to prop up your desires you are asking for problems.

No doubt, in due course, they will get their three-bedroom home but I believe that everybody should take responsibility for their financial affairs. They should also take responsibility for decisions regarding the adoption of companion animals. Animal adoption should be taken very seriously. It should be fully budgeted and people should be fully aware of the responsibilities that need to be discharged in order to care properly for pets.

Too often, people adopt animals on impulse or without proper preparation because they just want to live with a pet. The idea appeals to them and they bypass all the usual sensible processes of initially asking themselves whether it's a good idea and whether they can afford to do it and/or have the facilities to do it. This story is a case in point.

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