Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Homeless animals; no-pet policies

didi and nymph

I almost moved to Hawaii last year, and there it would have been a serious challenge to find a place I could afford that would allow even one cat. The situation with the Hawaiian Humane Society, and all the animals that are given up because people literally can’t find a place to rent that will accept animals, is so dire there because of the rental situation that the Humane Society hosts apartment listings that allow animals.

When I was hoping for a job offer and looking into apartments in Hawaii, I used the HHS’s website because wading through the majority of “no pets allowed” listings was too time consuming and frustrating. It is tragic, and shame on all of those landlords who impose a “no pet” restriction just because the housing market is tight enough that they can get away with it. It is discriminatory, but more than that, it causes the death of many animals every year. Kudos to the Hawaiian Humane Society for taking action.

Though I’ve never lived anywhere as strict as Hawaii, there have always been apartments unavailable to me because of a no-pet policy. I’ve fostered a cat for almost a year because her owner was about to be evicted from a “no pet” apartment for having a cat. It was an idiotic decision on her part to sign a lease knowing she was risking eviction if they found out, but people do make stupid decisions sometimes. I don’t think no-pet policies should be legal any more than no-kid policies are legal. (I know retirement communities are able to enforce minimum age requirements, and I’m not sure how they manage that!)

Instead of complaining about it, I should be trying to figure out a way to make my local area as pet-friendly as possible. I have a supposedly pet-friendly politician in my area, which could help. I will start by contacting the Hawaiian Humane Society to see what they have done to affect their changes with the landlords, and then I will start contacting the landlords in the area that I know are not pet-friendly.

There are too many reasons people abandon or relinquish their companion animals. A No-Pet Policy shouldn’t be one of them.



7 responses to “Homeless animals; no-pet policies

  1. cherie February 3, 2007 at 8:52 am

    I think, also, another option would be to speak directly with the property manager of the place that doesn’t allow pets or states that they don’t and see if they will make an exception. One was made in the case of Freesia and Pepper and the apartment we are currently at.

  2. Deb February 3, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Well I’m thinking more in terms of making the company policy be pet-friendly instead of the opposite. We shouldn’t need exceptions. It is also a problem when you have dogs who are anything other than cat-sized, and I know I’m one of many who has lied about the size of my dog (40lbs, so not huge in any case) so that we could have a place to live.

  3. Gary February 3, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Excellent topic, cogent and informative points, and I agree completely that no-pets policies contribute to the abandonment, suffering, and untimely death of more animals than I want to think about. I also agree that “pets allowed” should be the law, not the exception; it is discriminatory, and without valid basis when you think about it.

    That said, in the interim, sometimes talking to the property manager can result in a property-wide reversal of a no-pets policy. Some property managers are just ignorant or have never thought things through. I know of cases where complex-wide declawing polcices (another horror) were rescinded because one person talked to the property manager.

    For the umpteenth time, I’m impressed and invigorated by your “actionable activism.” I may – repeat, may – know of a couple contacts in the area who can help or at least offer advice. If it’s ok, I’ll contact them and get back to you. One would hope that in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and passage of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, politicians and the public (60 percent of whom live with an animal) realize that companion animals are FAMILY.

    The reduction or elimination of no-pet policies may not only cut back on abandonment (and frusrations), it may also significantly increase adoptions.

  4. Seb February 4, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Pet owners are probably more reliable tenants, on a average. I’d love to hear if you have any success, the situation is quite bad where I live too and this is inspiring. One thought – since this situation stops pet owners moving to Hawaii (or other places), I guess the big employers are losing out on some potential great hires. So maybe the employment sector (big companies, recruiters, local development agencies) would be willing to back efforts to promote pet-friendly rentals.

  5. Deb February 4, 2007 at 11:28 am

    That would be great if you know of people who could help, Gary! Ideally there would be a team of people contacting landlords/property managers to get them to change their policy, it certainly isn’t something I want to take on single-handedly. Seems like a project that could be organized through the shelters/humane societies, and I know you have contacts in this area for that. Philly and NYC have coalitions to help make their cities no-kill. If they don’t already have a program in place for this kind of thing, seems like they would be more than willing to start one.

    I hadn’t even thought of the declawing policies – that was something I always ignored, but I do know people who got their cats declawed specifically because of an apartment’s declawing policy. Excellent point.

    I think there are even statistics that show apartment complexes with large dogs suffer less crime. I’ll have to research to see if that is true – if so, it would be an obvious selling point for the property managers.

  6. Deb February 4, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Seb, I’m not sure how much of an impact this has on the employment sector, but it is definitely worth checking out. Quarrantine rules are better now (as in, you can usually take care of almost all of the steps to satisfy the strict import countries before bringing your cat or dog, etc, so they don’t have to stuffer through quarrantine), which helps, but before those rules changed, I know of several instances just from casual conversations where people decided not to take jobs in the UK or Australia because of the quarrantine they’d have to deal with.

    So, there might be more of an impact than we’d think. I would probably start with the local development agencies first, to see if they have information, if nothing else. Even the potential impact might be enough for them to join in the fight.

    Really, there is no reason for the landlords and property managers to impose a no-pet policy regardless. Here we’re stuck with all sorts of additional deposits and often monthly “pet-rents” and other potential fees. We are liable for any damage (as we should be, and as we would be regardless of having a “pet”) so they are taking on zero risk. There should be no such thing as a no-pet policy.

  7. RichBeBe February 5, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    There is currently a law that is referred to committee in NYC that says basically if you have a pet and have had it for three months the landlord can’t change the rules and kick you out. If the landlord knows you have a pet you are free if they let you have it for three months. Also if you pet dies you can get another, but you cannot have more than you had when they changed the rules. It is an improvement and is backed by the League of Humane Voters. This is important since landlords can currently revive or enforce laws about pets in their properties.

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