Housing is a Pressing Issue for Pet Parents


Dogs and cats are landing in shelters for various reasons. The number one reason is housing.

It’s not that the adopted animals during the pandemic (now four years ago) were an impulsive choice and have gotten boring after all this time. Landlords and condominium boards (HOA’s) increasingly have weight limits, breed limits and/or fees for allowing pets (if allowed at all).

Increasingly, states are passing bills not allowing – at least in Government housing – to restrict pets. The problem is that in many cases, no one knows about these laws, and if they do – no one enforces them. And while this is a great first step, most people don’t live in government housing.

In Illinois in 2021 house bill 0154 passed, Any building which receives any state government assistance, pets are now welcome and breed discrimination is not allowed. The sole exceptions are dogs over 50 lbs. which may or may not be allowed and any more than two cats. Both bills were led by Illinois State Senator Linda Holmes (42nd District), who I spoke with here on WGN Radio.

In 2022 The Newman bill in California goes even further, SB 971, restricts subsidized affordable housing—that is, units that receive financing from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and the California Department of Housing and Community Development—from banning tenants who own common household pets, as well as from imposing restrictions based on the breed or weight on any particular pet.

Last year, in Florida, Senate Bill 942 was passed, which prohibits government housing from restrictions based on dog breed or mixes. The bill also protects dogs by adding that weight and size are also no longer allowed to be restricted in public housing, so any dog of any weight will be allowed.

Arizona officials are now hoping to pass similar legislation and go even further:

What’s more, in many urban areas there’s an increasing divide as mid-size and large condo and rental buildings are not only allowing dogs, but even offering dog amenities including on-site dog parks and dog washes, dog walking services and more. Of course, there’s a price to having a dog live in the building and additional costs for the amenities.

Of course, not everyone can afford to live in these generally upscale buildings, or afford the extra costs. On the “other side of town,” landlords and HOA’s are making things even more challenging and costly for pet owners with weight restrictions, limit numbers (such as only one dog is allowed) or a pet fee which most can’t afford. Or they simply don’t allow pets all together.

Bark and Zillow just came out with a list of their most dog-friendly cities for renters:

  1. Dallas, TX
  2. Austin, TX
  3. San Antonio. TX
  4. Charlotte, NC
  5. Indianapolis, IN
  6. Denver, CO
  7. New York. NY
  8. Phoenix, AZ
  9. Seattle, WA
  10. Jacksonville, FL

In my view as long as renters continue to have pay more for large dogs, fewer adoptions of large dogs will continue. Sometimes landlords and HOA’s will ban anything over 50 lbs., sometimes over 20 lbs. – it’s all random as there is no evidence of dogs of a certain weight being more destructive. Actually very large dogs tend to be quieter, overall, compared to small but spunky Terriers, for example.

By the way, when buildings become dog-friendly, they have fewer issues with vacant units and dogs are a natural crime preventative. Just the mere presence of dogs – particularly large dogs – can deter bad guys. Also, people are out and about more, which not only enhances safety but also a sense of community.