So, you’ve decided it’s time to move. You do your research, choose your preferred neighborhood, and take the time to come up with several options for apartments you’d like to see. You set up viewings, find the perfect place, and send in an application. Then, alas, you’re rejected – but not because your credit isn’t where it should be or your income isn’t enough to cover the rent. It’s because of your dog! Now, because of breed restrictions, you’re not only out an application fee, but you have to start the whole process over again.
Unfortunately, many apartment buildings and landlords enact strict breed restrictions, which can make it difficult for renters with restricted pups to find a place to live. These days, though, breed restrictions are coming under a lot of heat from activists and animal organizations who think they simply aren’t fair.
It might be tempting to be dishonest on your application about your pets, but lying is the worst thing you can do. If a landlord discovers you have been dishonest about your pet(s), they will likely evict you…and living on the street is not an option.
What Are Breed Restrictions?
Breed restrictions are just what they sound like: certain breeds and their mixes are banned from living in certain buildings, houses and apartments. That means that even if Fido is a mutt, he may not make the cut, depending on the various breeds in his mix. Breed restrictions came about in an effort to protect people from what some consider “dangerous” breeds – especially pit bulls. In other words, if dangerous pets aren’t allowed in, there’s a lesser chance attacks or bites will happen.
If you are unsure of the true breed of your pet, get him/her tested! Visual breed identification can be unreliable. Your sweet pup may look like a Pit Bull, but might not be a Pit Bull – or Pit mix – at all!
There are three reasons dogs may be blacklisted from living in an apartment building.
1. Legislation. Some cities and counties have enacted breed-specific legislation that can ban breeds from even entering the city or county limits.
2. Insurance companies. Many insurance companies have blacklists that the buildings or apartments they insure must abide by.
3. Landlord’s Choice. Finally, breed restrictions may be the decision of the building’s landlord or management company.
Commonly Banned Dog Breeds
Pit bulls are the most commonly banned dog breed, and the ban extends to any Pit Bull mix, as well. Other dogs commonly found on blacklists include, but are not limited to:
● Alaskan Malamutes
● Siberian Huskies
● Doberman Pinschers
● German Shepherds
● Great Danes
● Wolf Hybrids
Dogs are typically restricted because of a perceived tendency to be aggressive or attack, or sometimes if they’re particularly large or strong.
Why are Breed Restrictions Bad?
Many activists as well as some high-level animal organizations (including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) are completely against breed restrictions for several reasons. Consider this: Has Fido ever attacked another animal or human or acted aggressive above and beyond what’s normal for dogs? If not, why should he be restricted just because some other dogs of the same breed have shown aggression?
Basically, many animal organizations agree that aggressive behavior is much more about nurture than nature – it all depends on how the animal is raised. Plus, many believe that restrictions simply don’t work to lessen the chances of dog attacks or bites. What’s more, breed restrictions have increased the number of homeless dogs – sometimes owners simply set the dog loose or bring it to an animal shelter rather than trying to look for an apartment that accepts all breeds.
What Can I Do If My Dog is Banned?
Breed-specific legislation has been slowly decreasing, and that’s great for loving dog owners like you! However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that insurance companies or landlords are going to change their minds. If Fido is blacklisted, though, there are a couple of things you still might be able to do to persuade your landlord into giving your beloved baby a chance:
● Request a Pet Interview. If the restrictions were put in place by a landlord (not an insurance company), there’s still hope! Ask the landlord if he or she is willing to do a doggie interview during which he or she can meet and interact with Fido. If the building has an area for dogs to roam, ask if you can hold the interview there. That way, the landlord will be able to see Fido has no intention of attacking other dogs or people. Create some talking points to guide the interview in the right direction. Talk about your pet being part of the family, and the role they play as a family member. Discuss your understanding and good track record of keeping your past properties clean and well-maintained, despite your dog(s). Offer additional money on your non-refundable pet deposit.
● Create Dog Resumes. Next time you apply for an apartment, come prepared. Put together a “resume” for Fido, with pictures, vet records and any other information you have. You can even bring along a video to show the landlord. Who will be able to resist those puppy dog eyes?
● Provide References. Your future landlord might not always want to meet your pet right off the bat, especially if they have a fear of animals that might be considered “aggressive”. If this is the case, ask your vet, groomer, pet sitter/boarding facility, or friends and family to write letters of reference for your furry friend.
● Gather Vet Records. Gather up and provide proof of your pet’s medical records (i.e. vaccinations, Rabies shots, tag registration etc.)
● Create a Video. Make a video of your pet showing him/her as a part of your family. If possible, try to include shots of interactions with children, other pets and elderly people. This might build trust between your potential landlord and your pet.
● Offer to Pay Pet Rent. We’ve all heard the expression that “money talks”. You might be able to offer your landlord a little more security with the promise of extra monthly rent for Fido.
● Secure Renters Insurance. Many landlords will want you to have your own kind of Renters’ Insurance regardless of your pets, but in this case, try taking it a step further. Offer to secure a policy that covers your pets and has a liability policy that covers them of $300,000, and lists the landlord as an additional insured member.
Hopefully these steps will help your potential future landlord see your furry friend in the same way you do – as a member of your family. If not, you might (unfortunately) need to consider finding a property with more relaxed pet policies.