Claire Rankin, Richmond River Independent
After almost three weeks living in her car in Evans Head with her dog, a
74-year-old widow is now safe and well at home.
Barbara Williams is grateful to all the people in Evans Head who came to her aid while she was living in her car. She felt forced to leave her Baptist Community Centre unit in Lismore when she was told she could not keep her four-year-old part-kelpie called Midnight.
However, she received confirmation last week she would be able to keep Midnight with her until one of her sons – who live in Ballina and Sydney – was in a position to take him.
Barbara said the situation remained unresolved, however, as it would be more difficult for her son in Ballina to find rental accommodation allowing a dog.
A private rental would be insecure and unaffordable for both her and her son, she said.
“I won’t give up on my boy Midnight,” she said.
Barbara had post-traumatic stress disorder.
She said when she moved into her one-bedroom public housing unit she was told she could keep her dog providing she put a gate on her veranda and a Beware of the Dog sign. Midnight was never left to roam outside, regularly walked on a lead, was sociable with other dogs and rarely barked, she said.
She recently received three letters saying the dog had to go, but there were no details of any complaint or evidence Midnight had behaved badly.
Although she kept paying rent on her unit, Barbara felt she was left with no choice but to pack her car and hit the road.
She regarded Evans Head as her second home, having grown up in the area, and found many prepared to help her.
One woman gave her a mattress for her car, the Neighbourhood Centre and St Vincent De Paul provided assistance and the RSPCA provided her with leads and dog food. Eventually, a local offered a holiday unit for the brief period it was free.
“The people in Evans Head were amazing to me,” Barbara said.
She eventually sought legal advice and a solicitor told her she could return home with Midnight.
This article appeared in the Richmond River Independent, 11 August 2021.