Ignoring an apartment’s “No Pets Allowed” rule can be a risk to your best friend’s well-being. Thankfully, the Doris Day Animal League and Massachusetts SPCA tell us how to work with the system and find appropriate housing to suit everyone’s needs.
It seems as if it has gotten harder and harder to find a place to live where your furry companion is as welcome as you are. And the only thing worse than being turned down for a potential apartment because of your pet, is being asked to surrender your pet because of a new or existing “no animals” rule. This has been cited as one of the most common reasons as to why people give up their pets to animal shelters. Luckily, through their joint Best Friends for Life campaign, The Doris Day Animal League and the Massachusetts SPCA are educating the public on the legalities of pet ownership in “no pets” buildings, and how to find the best no-risk living situation for you and your furry friends.
After receiving letters from many desperate animal owners who were instructed to give up their companions or vacate their apartments because of a “no pets” rule they didn’t take seriously, the Best Friends for Life campaign was started. The campaign seeks to show ways in which pet ownership and apartment living can be compatible.
As a pet owner, you are encouraged to be proactive in searching for housing options that are pet friendly. You must be honest from the get-go, making sure the landlord of a potential new home knows that you are a responsible tenant with well-behaved pets. You can even create a resume for your pets, complete with references. Best Friends for Life also offers model guidelines that may be written into a rental contract to protect the pet and pet owner, as well as the landlord.
Also, if you decide not to move into a particular building because of a pet restriction, make sure the landlord knows so that he sees the loss. This will put extra pressure on the management of the building to rethink their pet policy. Whatever you do, don’t move into a non-pet-friendly residence expecting to hide your pet or to convince the landlord later.
Best Friends for Life also offers information for disabled people regarding what rights they have to own a pet in both assisted and privately owned housing, even if there is a “no pets” rule. For those living in federally assisted housing, it’s pretty clear cut. A new federal law protects pet owners who have a disability and require a pet. Even if you are not in a federally assisted housing situation, Best Friends for Life offers persons with disabilities some arguments that may allow animals in “no pet” privately owned housing.
Responsible pet ownership, however, remains the most important thing. Make sure you educate yourself and explore the options you and your pet have before deciding on a new residence, so that you can feel secure in knowing that Spike or Fluffy is welcome in your new home!
The BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE publication is available through the Doris Day Animal League: 227 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Suite 100, Washington D.C. 20002. Phone: (202) 546-1761; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Karen Nace