Your Apartment Locator at BestApartmentsDFW.com needs to be made aware up front if you have a dog breed that is usually banned by apartments. Most apartments have rules imposed upon them by their insurance companies, and the insurance companies will not allow them to have certain restricted breeds because they deem them as potentially “aggressive”. These breeds include: Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinchers, Chow Chow, Rottweiler, and others.
Personally, I think it is highly unfair to ban an entire type of breed just because some of the members of that breed have been trained to bite or attack. Instead, they should do pet interviews to determine if each individual dog, on a case by case basis, of ANY breed, is well trained, socialized, and friendly. Even a Chihuahua can fail to meet those requirements and be aggressive.
But since the apartments and their insurance companies don’t really care what I think (imagine that), we have to accept reality and adapt. So, if you have one of those breeds mentioned above, what can you do? Most apartment locators, such as myself, are familiar with the properties in DFW that are more lenient than others when it comes to restricted breeds. Often times these properties are individually owned and have more power over making their own rules, rather than the properties that are part of a large group or chain. As the pet owner, here are some things YOU can do if you are the owner of a “restricted breed” dog:
1. Don’t Abandon Your Pet. Some Apartment Locators might suggest you should consider this option, or try to imply that is your ONLY option. If an Apartment Locator tells you that, run the other direction. Your pet is helpless and completely reliant on you to take care of them. They are a part of your family. Don’t be lazy and forego turning over every rock and exploring every option. The determined and responsible pet owner does not consider abandoning their pet as an option. Sadly, thousands of pets are put to sleep each year because their “trusted” owners moved and decided it would just be easier to get rid of them. Some pet owners do not realize that by taking their pet to a shelter, they are almost certainly condemning them to death. Most Shelters keep pets for a very short period of time before they euthanize them, one by one. The chances of your pet getting saved by another person who decides to adopt them is very slim. Even if you put your pet in a supposed “no kill” shelter, you are still condemning them to a life spent alone in a cage, because very few of those pets are adopted. If none of the apartments work out that your Apartment Locator tells you about, then do anything else but get rid of your pet….stay where you are and wait until another option opens up, move in with a friend or a relative, or rent a privately owned house or condo or town home instead of an apartment. You can find those privately owned properties Online or by driving around various areas and looking for “for rent” signs. Many times these individual owners will not care what kind of breed your dog is. Avoid homes for rent that have Real Estate Agents, as the Agents will likely be more strict about pet requirements as an individual owner would be.
2. Be Realistic. The owner of a “restricted breed” dog needs to be realistic and realize that he does not have the same flexibility as other renters. You must be more lenient when it comes to the area you want to live in. Perhaps you may have to drive a little bit further than you would like. You may have to forego some of the amenities or options that you would prefer. This is because there are a limited number of properties that allow dogs of any breed, and they are spread out across the DFW area. There may only be ONE in the area you were wanting to live, or there may be none in that area, but there is one in a nearby area. So, flexibility on your part as the pet owner, and keeping it real, can go a long way in finding a home for both you AND your beloved 4 legged friend.
3. Give your Apartment Locator ALL the Facts. Are you sure your dog is 100% Pit Bull, or German Shepherd, or one of the other restricted breeds? I ask this because one time a renter told me she had a Pit Bull, but upon asking her further questions I discovered that really this was a dog that she had found abandoned on the side of the road, and it just “looked” like a Pit Bull to her, so she assumed it was. In reality, she didn’t know if that was a Pit Bull or not. So, did you adopt your pet from some place and they told you that it probably was a Pit Bull or you assumed it was a Pit Bull? Did you find the dog somewhere? Did a friend give it to you and they THOUGHT it was a Pit Bull so they told you it was? Really, unless they got it from a breeder, or YOU got it from a breeder, you can’t be sure your pet is that breed. My recommendation is that you take your pet to a Vet and tell him your situation…that you are in a bind and will have a challenge finding an apartment if your dog is a PURE Pit Bull (or whatever restricted breed you think he/she is). Then ask them if there is any way your dog could be mixed with some other breed, more than 50%? For example, Pit Bulls are actually not a real breed. They are a mix between an American Staffordshire Terrier and a Bulldog. American Staffordshire Terriers look a lot like a Pit Bull. Could your dog be an American Staffordshire Terrier mixed with something else? Some Boxer mixes also can resemble Pit Bulls. If your Vet says that your dog could be more than 50% some other breed that is NOT restricted, ask them if they will help you out by writing a letter or note stating that fact (on their letterhead IF possible). Tell your Apartment Locator that you have this letter. It could prove to be very useful in getting you into an apartment. Another option is to look Online for companies that have Labs that actually will tell you what your dog is. Some require hair samples, or some other kind of sample, and you mail it to them and they send you back a DNA analysis telling you what all breeds your dog is. Then you don’t need a letter from the Vet. You can show the apartments this form if it comes back that your dog is mixed with something else. If your dog, for example, shows that it is part Pit Bull and part Golden Retriever, then instead of telling the apartments you have a Pit Bull mix you will tell them that you have a Golden Retriever mix. Emphasize the part of the dog that is allowable and don’t mention the Pit Bull part of the mix, unless the apartments ask.
Also, when giving your Apartment Locator all the facts, don’t forget to mention the weight of your dog or dogs. There are breed restrictions, and then there are also weight restrictions to consider. Some apartments may brand themselves as “no breed restrictions”, but then in the fine print they will say “weight limit of 25 pounds”. It just so happens that none of the restricted breeds are less than 25 pounds. So, by imposing a weight limit, they are actually imposing a limit on breeds by default. They want to appear pet friendly and liberal, and are hoping they may accidentally slip in the list your Apartment Locator is preparing of “no breed restriction” dogs. So check carefully the weight limits of all apartments that claim to supposedly not restrict breeds. Also, give your Apartment Locator the accurate weights of your pets (not what your dog use to weigh when he was a puppy, lol).
4. Take a Video. Some pet owners have had success by taking a little video showing how well trained their dog is. Take your dog on leash to a park and ask strangers to come up and pet him in the video. Show how friendly and well socialized your dog is. By seeing how calm and well behaved and social your dog is, and by emailing this to your Apartment Locator so she can use it when trying to convince properties to work with you, you are really doing YOUR part to help.
5. Find a Knowledgeable Apartment Locator. If you live anywhere in the DFW area, then www.BestApartmentsDFW.com can assist you in finding pet friendly apartments. If you live in another city or another state in Texas, then search Online for an Apartment Locator. When you actually make contact with a potential Locator, ask them the following 2 questions to see if they are qualified to assist you: Do you use an Apartment Locating MLS program that tells you which apartments can accept restricted breeds (a program such as “Smart Locating”, which works for any major city in Texas)? Have you ever successfully assisted anyone in the past with a restricted dog breed?
In case you are wondering, Apartment Locating MLS Programs are only available for Apartment Locators to use, and you have to provide proof that you are a licensed Agent in order to be granted access. These are the programs that professional Apartment Locators use to assist them in compiling a list of apartments that are a good match for you. However, experienced Locators who have been in business for a number of years also have their own knowledge of properties that may not officially be listed in the program as allowing restricted breeds, but off the record, they actually DO! Apartment Locators also frequently know which properties you might want to stay away from because of having a bad reputation, and which properties are new construction and aren’t showing up in the program yet.
6. Consider Getting Insurance For Your Restricted Dog Breed. If you live in the Dallas area, the good news is that there are a few dozen properties, spread out across the Metropolis among the thousands of communities, who can accept restricted dog breeds. Your Apartment Locator just has to know where to look. If you, however, live in another city and no Apartment Locator has been able to assist you in finding a breed friendly apartment, then you might be forced to search on your own for a privately owned condo, town home, duplex or house.
You are much more likely to find a landlord who is open to your breed of dog if you show them evidence that you are covered by an insurance liability policy specifically for dogs. One such company who offers this type of insurance in many different states is Einhorn Insurance. Having this type of insurance policy might even assist you in finding an apartment who will accept your breed. Some apartments decide on a case by case situation whether or not they will allow a particular pet. Having that policy in hand might just be enough to push them over the positive side. But regardless of whether you end up in an apartment, or you have no choice but to consider a private rental in a house, having this liability policy is not a bad idea for your own peace of mind. It covers any property damage your pet may do accidentally (let’s say your dog chews up or scratches the carpet and your landlord charges you $2000 for carpet replacement when you move out) in addition to any injuries it might impose on another person or another person’s animal.
7. Is Your Dog a Service Dog or an Emotional Support Dog? No? Are You Sure?
By law, most of us know that Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs are allowed to go anywhere with their owner. This is according to the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These Acts protect the right of people with disabilities to keep their registered animals, even if a landlord’s policy explicitly prohibits pets. BUT WHAT HAS THAT GOT TO DO WITH YOU, you might ask? Well, this is the interesting part. Continue to read….
Let’s look at the definition of a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Dog? These are 2 different types of animals. The Service Dog is the traditional Seeing Eye Dog who helps the blind. Or it might be a dog who assists the deaf. They provide physical activities that help the disabled, and you have the right to keep this animal with you at all times, anywhere, according to the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act). There is another category, however, of protected dogs that some owners are not aware of. These are Emotional Support Dogs. While they are not protected by the ADA, Emotional Support Dogs ARE covered under the Fair Housing Act. Emotional Support Dogs could be those who help you cope with “depression” and “stress”, or being “emotionally overwhelmed”. These are qualifying emotional or mental conditions or “disabilities” that your Emotional Support Dog can assist you with. Other qualifying emotional problems are: age related cognitive decline, autism, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, separation anxiety, social phobia, stress problems, and the already mentioned depression and feeling emotionally overwhelmed. This list does not include ALL the covered mental/emotional “disabilities” that legally can qualify your pet as an Emotional Support Dog.
If you have any of these impairments, then you can qualify to have your dog registered as an official “Emotional Support Dog”. How do you get your dog registered? One such company can be found here: www.NSARCO.com, which stands for National Service Animal Registry. By paying the fee and registering your animal, you will be sent the harness and id badges for your dog identifying him as a Certified Emotional Support Animal.
In addition to having this proof that your dog is certified, some landlords might ask for a letter or “prescription” from a doctor or therapist verifying that you do, indeed, have a disability. If you do not have a therapist or doctor at the moment who can give you this letter or prescription, then you can visit: This Website to obtain one. The letter needs to substantiate your need for the service animal in helping you to function.
Once your dog is certified as an official Emotional Support Dog, and you have the letter from a real doctor or therapist, no landlord should refuse to house you and your dog. In addition, landlords are not allowed by law to question you as to the nature of your disability. According to Fair Housing laws, they must treat all tenants the same and cannot ask you personal questions about your disability, as though they might allow some disabilities and not allow other disabilities. They cannot discriminate.
If you have gone through these steps, let your Apartment Locator know that you have such a letter/prescription and that your dog is registered as an Emotional Support Animal. Armed with this, your likelihood in finding a nice apartment to accommodate both you AND your furry friend will greatly increase!
Those are just a few suggestions for the pet owner of a restricted breed, outlining some tips on what YOU can do to assist your Apartment Locator while she is looking for a great new home for your ENTIRE family. Remember, if you try to hide your pet from the apartments, or you lie about the type of breed you have, then when it is discovered, the property will give you the option of either immediately getting rid of your pet (not an option) or moving out. When you move out, they can consider that as a “broken lease”, which will damage your rental history and leave a mark on your credit. Now, you are faced, not only with the challenge of finding a property that can accept your pet, but ALSO finding a property that can accept a renter with a broken lease on your record. Those are 2 major strikes against you! It’s better to just be honest with the apartments from the beginning, and do everything you can to cooperate with your Apartment Locator in their mission to find you a home where all members of your family will be welcome.
* BestApartmentsDFW.com, Best Apartments Dallas, J. Ellis Apartment Locators, nor any of its affiliates, members, owners or associates, are claiming to be legal attorneys, nor are they attempting to interpret, explain or apply the law. For legal information and confirmation, please always consult a licensed professional attorney.
* BestApartmentsDFW.com is a website operated by Licensed Real Estate Agent Amy Williams, brokered by J. Ellis Apartment Locators. Agent #: 488955. Broker #: 503345 .
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