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Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 7.30.2009

Eugene Weeklys Pets 2009

Thinking About Getting a Pet? Adopt.

No Dogs Allowed It’s not easy to rent with pets

How Now, Pet Cow? Miniature cattle aren’t just for eating 

Saving Sick Pets Local groups raise funds for pet medical bills 

From El Diablo to El Ángelito? Did the Dog Whisperer tame the wild Chihuahua?

Ask the Dogcatcher LCAS’s Kylie B. answers all your dog and cat questions

Too Much of a Good Thing What do shelters do with pregnant strays?

Something Not to Sneeze At Is there really such a thing as a hypoallergenic pet?

 

No Dogs Allowed

It’s not easy to rent with pets

By Topher Vollmer

Should you only own a dog if you own your own house? Many renters in Eugene have found it’s not so easy to find a place to live if you have a pet as a family member and don’t own your own place.

Christina Allaback, a postgraduate student at the UO, has owned dogs since she was a kid in Wisconsin. In Eugene, however, she’s found that her love of dogs does not mesh well with the policies of many local landlords and rental agencies. She was asked to leave her first apartment when she decided to bring her dog to live with her. The landlady, who was also a dog owner, feared that Allaback’s dog would bring fleas. The subsequent housing search took Allaback and her husband across Eugene and Springfield. Eventually, they found a rental home that would accommodate the couple and their dog — for a price.

That was before the recession hit. Now Allaback says she and her husband are finding it more difficult to keep up with the added expenses levied on them for wanting to have a dog in their home. “We have been sort of looking on and off for the last year, but we are on the cheap end of places that allow dogs, and we are paying about $950 a month,” said Allaback. That’s on top of a $700 deposit, and most landlords charge a non-refundable pet fee on top of the regular deposit. “We can’t afford it. We are struggling, but it is so hard to find a place that allows dogs that we are just going to stay and struggle,” she said.

Allaback’s story is not uncommon. As the recession has deepened, more families are looking to rent, and many of these families are being forced to decide between less expensive living accommodations and their family pets. 

Many landlords are reluctant about bringing in tenants with pets. Kris Newman of Newman Rentals, which runs several buildings in the Eugene area, said that he is generally more receptive to allowing cats in some of his older buildings but he is moving more towards a no pet policy on new tenants. The recession is partially to blame. With so many people interested in rentals, Newman said, he has found that he can fill his units without taking on the risk of pet-owning tenants.

“There are so many people out there that don’t have pets, and that means I don’t have to offer my places to people who have pets,” Newman said.

Newman said even a small pet can cause costly damage. In one unit, he said,  “I am having to replace all the carpet and all the pad, and then the dog that was there actually dug up the bathroom floor. I am having to replace all the bathroom floor.” Newman said he’s also replacing drywall the dog dug out in the kitchen. “So I’ve probably got, of all this work being done, probably $1,500 worth of damage from a pet that weighs about 10 pounds.”

For people who can’t part with their pets but would like to rent instead of own, there are some tips. Liesl Wilhardt of Luv-A-Bull Rescue said that people looking to rent with an animal should ask their potential landlord to come meet with them and their pet. The pet owner should have available any certifications to show the landlord that the pet is up to date on all shots and vaccines. She also said that before people look at renting, they should have their pets spayed or neutered, because this greatly reduces their chances of behavioral problems. Finally, she recommends having some evidence that dogs have gone through a training course to help prevent behavioral problems. 

Cherie DeLorme, the creator of themuddypuddle.com, a local site devoted to rescue and pet resources, echoed many of those recommendations and added that renters with pets should create a “pet résumé” complete with references from previous landlords. DeLorme also warned that no matter what steps a potential renter takes, some landlords simply will not take pets. She said that renters should always check a landlord’s pet policy before getting an animal. Animal rescues and humane societies will not adopt out pets to renters without a landlord’s permission.

Many trainers also recommend crate training for dogs, which entails keeping the dog in a large comfortable kennel when the owner is not home.

Despite the difficulty of finding rentals that will allow pets, some people, like Allaback, continue to take the more difficult path rather than part with their animals.

“I am responsible for my dog, so she needs to be comfortable. I am not going to give her up,” Allaback said.

For links to companies that offer pet friendly housing in Eugene, and other related material visit themuddypuddle.com. You can also go to nwrentalsonline.com, a service that can help renters find pet friendly housing.