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How Housing Issues Impact Our Nation’s Animal Shelters

Animal shelters nationwide are overwhelmed, and contrary to popular opinion, COVID returns aren’t the leading cause of the current overcrowding crisis. Shelters report the vast majority of surrenders are related to housing. Without government intervention, there is no simple remedy for most of the factors below. 

  1. Size matters. Most public housing only allows dogs under 30 pounds. As our economy continues to struggle, some families are turning to public housing. If they have a larger dog in their family, they have no choice but to rehome their pet.
  2. Rental housing in the private sector is limiting pets. While some rental homes accept dogs, many put limitations on weight and breed. My friend, Logan Ryan, a two-time Super Bowl winner and co-founder (with his wife Ashley) of the Ryan Animal Foundation, shared that renting with pets is not easy, even for a celebrity with a large budget who is highly regarded in the animal welfare space! When he moved to New Jersey to play for the New York Giants, Logan and Ashley were looking for a rental for their family, which includes a well-behaved pit bull. They found a luxury home that was animal friendly; however, the deal was off when Logan and Ashley disclosed their dog was a pit bull. The landlord would not bend. 
  3. Insurance is an issue, even when it shouldn’t be. Some insurance companies do not provide liability coverage for certain large breed dogs. In turn, corporations that own rental buildings adopt the same policy under the guise of getting insurance. This is interesting because some of these rental corporations are actually insured with companies without the limitations. When called out by animal advocates, their pet policies don’t change. Landlords may also require tenants to carry Canine Liability Insurance on their dogs, which creates yet another expense for pet owners.
  4. We are living differently. Housing developments are popping up to encourage living, shopping and dining on the same street. People are traveling more with pets than ever before, and everywhere you go, a dog is dining on the patio or accompanying its owner in stores. We are doing so much more with our dogs. For this reason, many people are choosing small or medium-sized canine companions, leaving large dogs sitting in shelters. So many beautiful big dogs that would flourish in this lifestyle are not getting the opportunity. 

You can make a difference. When it comes to housing, this is not a battle solely for animal welfare advocates—this is a war for all dog lovers. If we don’t speak out now, our canine family members will be nearly impossible to house. Dogs are dying in animal shelters because their housing options are limited. This devastating fact does not reflect kindly on who we are as a society. Animals are connected to some of our most vulnerable populations and are important to their well-being. Some of these people are being asked to hand over their dog, their lifeline. How can we allow this?

Please don’t do business with those that discriminate against the size and breed of dogs. Talk to local officials, policymakers, legislators and corporations you can access. Ask them to keep families together. Your vote and your voice matters. If enough people raise a red flag, lawmakers will listen.

Visit your local animal shelter. Help them promote the incredible dogs waiting for a family of their own. No matter how big, what breed or color, dogs are a part of us. Share this blog and the links below with friends, family and your social media pages. Far too many pets waiting to go home won’t get the chance unless we stop restricting where they can live. Together, we can save them.  

Until every pet has a home,  

Additional Resources:

For Landlords: