Monday, November 4, 2013

Being a Responsible Pet Owning Renter

Pets are wonderful. They enrich our lives and bring so much joy into our hearts. Having a pet means always having someone to go home to, and something warm to snuggle with. Sharing my life with dogs gives me a reason to get out and move around, breath in the smells of the outdoors and appreciate the world a little more.  I have made many friends on walks, at stores, and at parks simply because I have a dog and either they do too or they love dogs as much as I do but for various reasons cannot have one at the moment.

Kirby, Juno, and foster dog Harold.
What joys to come home to!
One reason many people do not have a pet is because the apartment or home they are renting does not allow pets.  I am so grateful that in the 5 different places Husband and I have lived in the past few years, we have been able to have our pets with us. It did not come without struggle.  I had to sift through hundred, if not even thousands, of rental postings crossing out every post with the words NO PETS nice and bold.  I have called more landlords and management companies than I can count and have been hung up on by more than a few once I uttered that dreadful "P" word. Our rent is often higher than non pet owning tenants, and we have not always been able to live where we want because of lack of pet friendly housing.

Why does it have to be this way?  Many people would point fingers at the landlords and management companies and call them heartless or cruel for not allowing their dear pets, their furry family members, to live with them.

I, instead point my finger right back at pet owners. That's right, I blame pet owners for this.

Our current apartment was a godsend.  Affordable, pet friendly housing in the middle of the oil boom. So many tenants have pets because this is one of only few options in the area.  They had simple rules: don't bother the neighbors, keep your dogs on leash outside, and clean up after your pets. They had a designated area for pets to eliminate and were even so kind as to provide poo bags by every door. Is this heaven?

Unfortunately a few bad kids had to ruin it for the whole class.

It didn't take long for residents to take advantage of the overly nice management.  Dogs were allowed to eliminate in forbidden areas. Not only that but people seemed to struggle with picking up the poo, even though there were poo bags at every door.  And even when they managed to pick it up and bag it, many thought it a good idea to leave the bags on the sidewalk outside the door, just a mere 100 steps away from the dumpsters.

Dogs running off-leash interrupted parking lot traffic and male dogs started marking all the pretty landscaping by the doors.  It was not uncommon to enter the elevator and discover the tell-tale wet trail ending in a blob on the floor indicating a dog had urinated.  The cleaning crew even confessed to finding abandoned piles of poop in stairwells. Who does that!?

Is it any shock that our wonderful apartment complex recently revoked it's pet-friendly policy? Not at all. Thankfully, only new residents are restricted from having pets.  Current residents are grandfathered in but it is implyed that any little misdemeanor on the part of your pets could get you faced with the ultimatum of disposing of your pets within 24 hours or face eviction.

Irresponsible pet owners have caused the pool of pet friendly rentals to shrink yet again. And I do not blame the apartments, I would not want to deal with a bunch of dog poo everywhere when I could have just field my complex with non-pet owning tenants.

AKC Museum of the Dog, a pet friendly museum in St. Louis.

This irresponsibility is far reaching and very damaging.  More pets will be brought to shelters or abandoned because their owners cannot find adequate housing.  Less pets will be adopted from shelters because more people live in NO PET buildings.  This one complex is owned by a company that owns hundreds across the state, the NO PET policy could spread throughout the rest of their complexes. 

This is a huge problem and if you are a pet owner you need to be worried about it because it affects all of us. The same irresponsibility that is losing us housing opportunities is also getting our furry family members banned from various places and parks.  The days of pets going everywhere with us is changing to pets going to a few select pet friendly zones.

So what can we do?  Be responsible, be a role model, and encourage others to follow suit. Carry poo bags when you walk your dog. Pick up the poo and properly dispose of it. I have forgotten poo bags in the past and have managed to improvise with leaves and random garbage.  I don't like carrying the poo bags so I tie them to my leash, the back of my dog's harness, or in her backpack.

When I see another dog's poo I pick it up. Not doing so could only hurt me and would never help me.  When someone blatantly leaves their dog's poo with no intention of picking it up, I smile and pull out an extra bag, pick it up, and comment on how I hate it when I forget my poo bags.  Hopefully some get the hint, social pressure can be a very powerful thing.

Own up to you and your dog's shortcomings and prepare for them.  If you know fluffy can't always hold it the entire elevator ride, carry her so she can't pee or bring cleaning supplies along in a little tote just in case.  If this is a common problem maybe you should consider training her to use a potty pad instead?

Control your dog's and recognize when you need help.  There is an entire profession dedicated to helping pet owners enjoy and train heir pets. Some great links to find a trainer are:

          The Pet professional Guild

          The Karen Pryor Academy

          *The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers

          *The Association of Professional Dog Trainers

*Buyer beware, trainers listed in these searches are not always force free. Do your research and be sure to chose a trainer that uses modern, science-based training.

In the end, we as pet owners must strive to be better tenants and better citizens than our non-pet owning neighbors.  We need to change in a way that makes apartment complexes want to rent to us instead of banning us.  We need to take responsibility for both our and our comrades actions to try and fix this huge problem.

Do you know the saddest thing about my new apartment complex's recent ban on pets? The apartment is only 2 months old. You read that right.  This is a brand new complex and irresponsible tenants managed to turn this pet friendly housing into NO PETS ALLOWED in just 2 short months.  Something needs to change, and we need to lead the change.

What are some useful things you have done to find pet friendly housing? Are you a landlord? Why is your pet policy like it is? Leave a comment, I would love to hear it!
On a brighter note, I have returned to blogging, YAY! I really do have a lot to share and a lot that I think people will find useful and/or entertaining in some way or another, I just need to dig in and DO it! Thanks go to "El Chris" at The Iron Buzz for inspiring to get back in.  His blog is always entertaining, inspirational, and educational. Go check it out!

Until we meet again,
 Stay Pawsitive!

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