More than 25 million pet owners are renters in the U.S., according to the Pet-Inclusive Housing Report.
Steven Feldman, executive director of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, spoke during the session “Some Dogs Allowed: A Comprehensive Look at Pet-Friendly Rental Housing in America” on July 30 during AVMA Virtual Convention 2021. Feldman discussed the role of the veterinary community in supporting pet owners who are renters and data from the report.
The report is from HABRI and the Michelson Found Animals Foundation. The research from 2019 drew on a survey of 1,299 renters and 551 property owners and operators.
About 72% of renters said pet-friendly housing is hard to find, 59% said it’s too expensive, and 24% said that their pet has been the reason they needed to move, which means about 6 million renting households have moved because of their pets.
The research shows the biggest challenge is not necessarily a lack of pet-friendly housing but restrictions on pets. Restrictions can be based on the number of pets, size, weight, and breed. For example, some landlords only allow dogs that weigh 45 pounds or less.
According to the report, property owners and operators mentioned several reasons for these restrictions, such as protecting property from physical damage caused by pets and the perceived risk of larger animals and certain breeds harming people or property.
Seventy-six percent of property owners and operators say their properties are pet friendly, according to the report, but only 8% are free of any restrictions.
The pandemic has also added an extra layer to housing concerns. An estimated 19 million pets in the U.S. are living in households that are at risk of eviction, according to data from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
On Sept. 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed a nationwide temporary federal moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent. The CDC order has since been extended multiple times, but it expired July 31. On Aug. 3, the CDC issued a new eviction moratorium through Oct. 3 for counties with heightened rates of COVID-19 community transmission, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an unsigned opinion on Aug. 26 that the federal agency did not have the power to order such a ban, effectively ending the moratorium.
Feldman said pet owners are going to come to veterinarians for advice and knowledge on societal topics such as pet-friendly rental housing.
“They’ll ask you about their pets’ health, but they may also ask you about these kinds of issues, about pets in society,” Feldman said.