Right to Own Companion Animal Becomes Pet Cause

Nation's Cities Weekly, June 7, 1999 | Go to article overview

Right to Own Companion Animal Becomes Pet Cause


ANS--The The federal government has opened the doors of public housing to pet owners, and tenants in private apartments also have a resource for overcoming the ubiquitous "no pets allowed" rule.

Several nonprofit organizations try to match potential tenants with pet-friendly property owners by providing comprehensive lists of such landlords to the public free of charge.

"We were receiving numerous phone calls, particularly from elderly people and people with limited incomes, who couldn't find housing that takes pets," said Sue Mahar, co-president of the all-volunteer Whiskers Animals Benevolent League in Albany, N.Y. "Letting people know where to start looking by providing a list seemed like the common sense thing to do."

The right to a pooch has become a pet cause in Washington. Last year, President Clinton signed legislation that allows residents in most federally assisted housing developments to bring a pet into their homes. Previously, the law extended this privilege only to the elderly and disabled living in federal housing.

"This is going to give responsible pet owners the opportunity to have a companion animal to cherish and love, and it will give many shelter animals the opportunity to go to a loving home, instead of facing an uncertain future or possible death," said Lisa Weisberg, chief lobbyist of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in a statement reacting to the legislative victory.

The new law does not cover tenants of private housing--about half of whom own pets, according to a national estimate by the Humane Society of the United States.

Human Society spokeswoman Nancy Peterson said more people would adopt pets if their landlords allowed it. The Humane Society often hears from people who are distraught because they can't find housing that will accept their pets or because apartment management changes and brings with it new rules regarding pet ownership, Peterson said.

She noted however, that the impact of "no-pets-allowed" policies can be deceiving. "Sometimes `I'm moving, and I can't take my dog,' really means

`I'm moving and my dog barks all the time,"' Peterson said. …

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