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July 2023 Resource Drive: Pet Inclusive Housing

  • 1.  July 2023 Resource Drive: Pet Inclusive Housing

    Posted 07-06-2023 11:06 AM

    This month our resource drive is focused on pet-inclusive housing. With many housing options having breed or weight restrictions, the goal is to create a database of pet-inclusive housing resources. This topic is an iteration of a suggestion by @Jennifer Toussaint (she/her) in an effort to help pet owners of all breeds stay together with their pets. 


    For this resource drive, members are looking for information on (but not limited to):

    • List of resources including homeowner/rental insurances and policies that are all-breed friendly

    • Any work including promotional materials organizations have done and used to advocate for breed inclusivity or pet inclusivity in rental properties/complexes/apartments

    • Any work being done to reduce the costs of pet deposit fees or programs that support pet owners with pet deposits

    • Links to any organizations' websites that are working to promote complexes that do not have breed or weight restrictions

    • Additional resources for renters with pets


    How to Participate in this Resource Drive?

    1. Upload, Share or Link to examples of pet friendly housing resources for pet owners

    2. Reply with a request for a specific resource you NEED or a question related to pet-inclusive housing


    Where Will the Resources be Stored? How do I view them? 

    All welcoming practices related resources shared on this thread will be accessible in the "Pet Inclusive Housing" folder in the Maddie's Pet Forum Library: https://maddies.fund/petfriendlyhousingresources


    Share & You'll Be Entered To Win $50

    Everyone who uploads a file, shares a resource on this thread or replies with information or questions about welcoming practices during the month of July 2023 will be entered to win a $50 gift card to Amazon, Petco or PetSmart (winner's choice).


    Your contributions will also make you eligible for the $3k monthly grant giveaway on Maddie's Pet Forum. You can learn more about this giveaway here. 


    Pro-Tips for sharing resources: 

    • Use the "Upload File" button when replying to this thread to attach a file. We encourage you to attach the file versus hyperlinking to the file whenever possible. Files that are attached get automatically added to the Maddie's Pet Forum Resource Library so attaching helps make the resource searchable and improves accessibility within the forum.

    • Yes, you can share resources that your organization did not create. Sharing is caring and this applies to resources too! Make sure the creator allows the resource to be shared publicly and be sure to give credit to the creator or source organization.


    #Diversity,Equity,InclusionandJustice
    #LawsandPublicPolicy
    #PetSupportServices*

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    Charlotte Otero
    Community Strategist at Maddie's Fund
    she/her
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  • 2.  RE: July 2023 Resource Drive: Pet Inclusive Housing

    Posted 07-06-2023 02:32 PM

    Hi Everyone,

    I cannot wait to see what resources are added to this list! We have begun working in our community on creating a "renter friendly" portion to our website that features rental properties throughout our region that are pet friendly with low or no pet fee and no breed restriction policies! These properties are now getting free publicity for their properties through our organization while similarly aiding us in supporting our mission towards ensuring we can equitably keep pets with their loving families. The link to that portion of our webpage is here: https://www.awla.org/renting-with-pets/

    Some other amazing resources I have heard about: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/information-renters-pets , https://www.mypitbullisfamily.org/housing 



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    Jennifer Toussaint
    Chief of Animal Control
    Animal Welfare League of Arlington
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  • 3.  RE: July 2023 Resource Drive: Pet Inclusive Housing

    Posted 07-07-2023 06:46 PM

    This is very low-tech, but I found quite a few locally by doing landlord-checks as part of the adoption screening process -- we always call the landlord/apartment manager of renters before approving an adoption because our breed is often on the "excluded" list.   Whenever I found a GSD-friendly landlord, I tried to remember to make a note in a spreadsheet (Google Doc) where I'd note the name of the apartment complex, landlord, and their phone number.  

    I managed to keep a few dogs in their homes with that home-brew list -- people who emailed us distraught about needing to surrender their dog because they couldn't find rental housing would be steered to those places I knew accepted GSDs.  

    It would probably have been more effective to have the list shared with other power-breed organizations (Dobes, Rotts, Mastiffs, PBs etc.), but I was just trying to keep my head above water in those early days.  A consortium of rescues could even split up calling/emailing to ask about breeds accepted in lots of big complexes.



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    Maggie Thomas
    President
    Red Stick German Shepherd Rescue
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  • 4.  RE: July 2023 Resource Drive: Pet Inclusive Housing

    Posted 07-08-2023 05:57 AM

    Charlotte,

    I would like to make a shout out to an organization who I happened upon at some point, My Pit Bull is Family.

    No reason for adding more--their web site has all. 

    I must also say that this could not be more timely but I feel should also be seen as a broader issue.  Breed discrimination is often people discrimination and we are in the midst of  an affordable housing crisis. I feel that we need to leverage the entire issue as much as possible to keep families together!! I cannot tell you how many adoption events I have volunteered at when individuals and families who would have wonderful homes could not adopt an animal because "pit bull" was listed.

    I would love to see Maddie's support these efforts--maybe through a pilot program in specific cities. 

    Maybe some already exist and the response for the resources will be forthcoming!!



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    susan murphy
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  • 5.  RE: July 2023 Resource Drive: Pet Inclusive Housing

    Posted 07-08-2023 11:33 AM

    I don't think it's fair to say the landlords are engaging in deliberate people discrimination.  Most of them are passing through their insurance company's requirements, and most of the breed bans are being pushed by insurers, as they're operating a business -- and losses are statistically higher for certain breeds in the insurance payout statistics.  I'm sensitive to this right now as we just went through a real mess trying to find CGL insurance for our rescue because of the breed -- our insurer for the past decade dropped all the rescues that have certain breeds (including German Shepherd Dogs)--our agent found NO companies willing to write coverage, and we had to find coverage on our own through a rescue & shelter-specific organization.

    Ask anybody who owns rental housing about this, and they'll explain that their insurance rates have been increasing rapidly, and when they shop for lower rates, they often get a long list of banned breeds to go along with the new insurance policy.    Landlords who have older, grandfathered policies are more likely to not have policies with breed bans. Legislation is really the only way to stop it. 

    The most interesting response I ever heard from a small landlord who owned a few little houses without a breed ban list was that he allows all breeds -- but only if they have at least a CGC or better OB titles.   He ended up with renters who owned dogs that were always fantastic, no matter what the breed.    Our area has many discounted OB classes for rescues, so the OB group training is within financial reach of most dog owners.  Apparently his insurance company was fine with that approach.   I thought it was an interesting solution to be assured of well-behaved dogs, putting a lot more responsibility on dog owners (since only about 10% of dog owners ever attend any kind of obedience class....).



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    Maggie Thomas
    President
    Red Stick German Shepherd Rescue
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  • 6.  RE: July 2023 Resource Drive: Pet Inclusive Housing

    Posted 07-10-2023 04:01 PM

    Following up on the role of insurance in PF Housing:

    It's not enough to keep lists for RENTERS.   This is also an issue for HOMEOWNERS.  

    We've had several former adopters who are homeowners contact us because their homeowners insurer notified them that they no longer would write coverage on our particular breed (German Shepherd Dogs)  -- the letter basically said get rid of the dog by X date, or the policy wouldn't be renewed.    We were able to give them  a couple of suggestions to shop coverage to different insurers who WOULD write coverage for homes with German Shepherds, but the list is dwindling.

    There is NO easy nationwide answer to this.  Liberty Mutual covered GSDs in my state, but not in the neighboring one.  Allstate and SF similarly covered them in some states but not others.  So it's pointless to have a list that says "State Farm works" (because they cover might X breed in Texas but not Louisiana)!   USAA has no breed restrictions, but one needs a military connection (even a parent who served in Vietnam would work...but they have to be alive to confer USAA membership).    Meanwhile, many insurers are not writing new coverage along the Gulf Coast due to hurricanes, and in California due to wild fires and other losses--which makes it even harder to find a solution.

    Some might be tempted to advise "just don't tell the insurer about the dog."  That's a good way to get your rescue/shelter sued into bankruptcy for giving that advice. Why?  Rescission.  Many states allow insurers to retroactively cancel (rescind) a policy for a material omission at renewal -- meaning you don't tell them about something important (like a banned-breed dog), and then they get to later declare the policy void because they wouldn't have issued the policy if they'd known all of the true facts.    The policy has a ticking time bomb for them to retroactively cancel after ANY loss -- even an unrelated one--if you don't disclose the dog.  So the house burns down due to an electrical fire, the adjuster realizes there was an undisclosed dog in the home, BAM!  Suddenly you have no insurance, despite paying premiums, because they trigger the rescission clause due to nondisclosure of a material risk (i.e., the dog).  

    Some carriers will let people exclude the dog from the policy (meaning no coverage if there's a bite), and then people have to go on the excess market to look for "dog bite" insurance on top of homeowners (cost depends on breed, training, and bite history).   I know a lady who did that and didn't buy the extra coverage -- a pretty minor run-in with a neighbor that didn't even break the skin resulted in a 5-figure cash settlement that they had to pay out of pocket, since homeowners policy had excluded the dog.   So, yeah, the coverage is important.

    It would be very useful for someone to compile a 50-state list of the homeowners insurance carriers writing coverage for GSDs, Rotties, Dobes, Akitas, Chows, Mastiffs, PBs, etc. -- commonly excluded breeds.  If there are national options other than USAA with no breed bans, that would be great to know -- but just knowing they don't have a restriction in YOUR state doesn't mean that they don't have one in OTHER states, so it really has to be done state by state.   I guess I'd add this to the list of "NEEDED" resources!



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    Maggie Thomas
    President
    Red Stick German Shepherd Rescue
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  • 7.  RE: July 2023 Resource Drive: Pet Inclusive Housing

    Posted 07-19-2023 09:46 AM

    At The Anti-Cruelty Society we have a Pet Deposit Subsidy Program which covers pet deposit or other pet fees for renters to move into a new apartment in the Chicago area. Depending on funds available, we may be able to cover monthly pet rent for the first few months, as well. Pet Deposit Subsidy Program | The Anti-Cruelty Society (anticruelty.org)


    Last year, we were a sponsor of the Chicago Housing Authority's Owner Symposium, which gave us a "virtual booth" to promote our programs. We also provided information on the benefits to landlords of having pet-friendly policies. This event is annually attended by a couple of thousand property managers and owners in the area so has a fairly broad reach. We additionally started to reach out to neighborhood landlord organizations in order to attend meetings or pass along information about the value of pet owners as tenants. We never got that far due to unrelated issues but I think it's a good idea that others could employ. 
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    Melissa Klett
    Pet Support Specialist
    The Anti-Cruelty Society
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  • 8.  RE: July 2023 Resource Drive: Pet Inclusive Housing

    Posted 07-19-2023 10:14 AM

    I have encountered various challenges related to pet-friendly housing, and I can share some practical advice based on those experiences. One effective strategy is to collaborate with local animal welfare organizations. By working together, we gained valuable insights and resources to address housing issues for pet owners. Additionally, thoroughly researching landlord and rental policies in our area proved crucial in identifying pet-friendly options. I took the initiative to compile a comprehensive database of pet-inclusive housing choices, which proved helpful for pet owners seeking suitable accommodations. To advocate for pet inclusivity, I developed informative materials and brochures based on real-life success stories, highlighting the benefits of pet-friendly housing. Another practical approach I found beneficial was identifying programs that assist pet owners with deposit fees, which I then shared with those in need. Engaging with online pet communities allowed me to exchange resources and connect with professionals facing similar challenges. Furthermore, building relationships with property managers provided an opportunity to share educational materials on responsible pet ownership and highlight the positive impact pets can have on individuals and communities. Finally, I emphasized the importance of regularly updating resources to ensure accurate and current information for pet owners seeking suitable housing options. By following these logical steps, I was able to contribute to a more pet-friendly housing environment and assist pet owners in finding inclusive accommodations.



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    Lara Jain
    Officer
    Macdonald's
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