A DEVASTATED family forced out of their rat-infested home say they were told to sell their dog ahead of a possible move to a hotel.
Sophie Ponting, 30, a retail worker, says her local council has told her to relocate Luna, a three-year-old cockapoo, and warned they may not otherwise be able to find her new home.
The mum has been renting out her two-bed terraced house in Swindon, Wiltshire, for the past eight years. However, the property is now for sale and the family will be homeless in June.
Sophie says she never ran out of rent at the address where she raised children Holly, seven, and Grace, 10, and even spent her own money trying to solve “drastic problems”, including mold and rodent infestation.
However, she refuses to sell the pet Luna. She has owned the dog since he was nine weeks old.
“I tried to find a new private rental, but there’s nothing suitable there,” she said.
“I was told that when we are expelled we will have to go to the council in case of emergency.
“They said it is very likely that we will be accommodated in a hotel as they have no accommodation available.
“They don’t know how long we will be staying at the hotel, but they told us we had to sell our dog because they wouldn’t let them in.”
Sophie says she has “never been so disgusted”.
“I lost my rag,” she said.
“Luna is my little baby – I had her at nine weeks and she’s going to be three in May.
“She’s not a pet, she’s a family and she’s not going anywhere.
“I don’t understand how they can physically do this. It’s causing my kids so much distress, and I’m now on medication for anxiety and depression.”
She claims her daughter Holly, who had open-heart surgery when she was born, was put at risk by the rented house.
Rather than make improvements, the landlord simply told her to wipe down the moldy walls and open the windows, she claims.
Sophie has used white vinegar, dehumidifiers and paint to try and fix the problem, but she thinks the lack of cavity wall insulation is to blame.
During this time, pest control experts visited the house in an effort to chase away the rats.
She claims council staff have warned her that they are unlikely to find new accommodation before her eviction date, and that the family may have to move to a hotel instead.
Swindon Borough Council officials said: “We do not have a no pets policy and will always try to find accommodation to allow our tenants to bring their pets with them.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, this is not always possible as some emergency/temporary accommodation has a strict no pet policy.
“We understand this will be upsetting for the family, but we will work with them and support them to find a suitable home for them and their dog.”