I Own a Restricted Dog Breed-
How Do I Get an Apartment?
Let your Apartment Locator at BestApartmentsDFW.com know up front if you have a dog breed that is usually banned by apartments. These breeds include: Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinchers, Chow Chow, Rottweiler, Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Dalmations, Boxers and others. Most apartments ban these breeds because their insurance companies deem them as potentially “aggressive”. You need to find apartments in Dallas that take aggressive dog breeds (they call them “aggressive dog breeds”, but I prefer to call them “restricted dog breeds”, because it is impossible and ignorant to label every dog of a particular breed as aggressive).
Personally, I don't agree with the policy to blacklist an entire breed based on stereotypes. ANY dog could be aggressive of ANY breed. It makes much more sense, instead, to conduct a pet interview with any and all dogs to determine the friendliness of each individual pet, on a case by case basis.
Fortunately, this is what some apartments are doing now. Over 95% of all apartments in Dallas still have breed restrictions, but at least there are a growing number of properties now that have began to accept all breeds with a pet interview or a letter from a Vet stating that the animal is well conditioned, well behaved and friendly. These properties are spread out in the various corners of DFW. Fill out the form on our website today and a custom list of all the properties that can work with your breed and are the closest possible to your desired area and price range will be sent to you. So the good news is that there ARE Dallas apartments that allow restricted dog breeds.
In addition, 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. All that means is that the Locator has no idea where the properties are that can work with your dog, and they don't want to put in the time and work required to find those properties. Your pet is a part of your family and is completely reliant on you to take care of them. Millions of pets are abandoned every year. Don't let YOURS be one 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 are over crowded. Their policy is to keep an animal for only a few days before putting them to sleep. The chances of your pet getting saved and adopted is very slim, especially if it is a breed that people are prejudiced against. 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.
Do anything else but get rid of your pet….consider other areas of Dallas where more options are available, stay where you are and wait until another option opens up, or rent a privately owned house. condo or town home instead of an apartment. You can find those privately owned properties Online or by driving around various neighborhoods 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 are represented by Real Estate Agents or Property Management Companies. These homes will likely have the same criteria and restrictions as most apartment complexes.
2. Be Realistic. If you own a “restricted breed” of dog, your number of options are not going to be the same as a renter who does not have that limitation. Therefore, you must be a little bit more flexible, especially 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 accept a property that does not have all the luxuries or amenities 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 and keeping it real can go a long way in finding a home for both you and your pet.
3. Provide your Apartment Locator With ALL the Facts. Are you sure your dog is 100% of a restricted breed? If you adopted your pet, found your pet, or you were given your pet as a gift, you might not be 100% sure. In that case, my recommendation is that you have a Dog DNA test done. Please visit the page of this website called “Dog DNA Test” for more information. This detailed lab report will either say that your dog is so mixed that there is NO predominant dog breed (which means he is not predominantly a restricted dog breed), or it will outline exactly what breed or breeds your dog mostly is, going back a few generations. Another option is to take your pet to a Vet and tell him your situation…that you are trying to find an apartment. See if your Vet would be willing to write you a letter stating that your dog is a mix of two particular breeds that are non-aggressive (on their letterhead IF possible), so you could take it with you to show apartments. Tell your Apartment Locator that you have this letter, or that you have the DNA report.
Also, when giving your Apartment Locator all the facts, don’t forget to mention the weight of your dog or dogs. Apartments also have weight limits in addition to breed restrictions and limits on the number of pets permitted. So, give your Apartment Locator the accurate weights of your pets. It is also important to mention if your pet is a puppy (less than 1 year old), of ANY breed. Some apartments have age restrictions and only allow dogs over 1 year old.
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. This method will probably only be effective for convincing those small individually owned apartments that can set their own rules. Perhaps they are on the fence when it comes to allowing or not allowing your breed, and this video could push them over to your side. For the large chain of apartments, however, that are managed by a property management company, their hands are usually tied and they must strictly follow whatever pet policies have been handed down from above. A video will likely make little difference.
5. Consider Getting Insurance For Your Restricted Dog Breed. There are insurance companies that offer liability policies 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 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. Again, this mainly applies to the smaller, individually owned properties that can make their own rules. Having this insurance in hand might just be enough to convince them to allow your particular dog. Also, 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 to the apartment, such as to the carpet for example. My friend's dog ate the door to her bedroom. You heard correctly....she ate the door. It was quiet a surprise to come home to after work. Insurance covers damage such as that.
6. Is Your Dog a Service Dog or an Emotional Support Dog? No? Are You Sure?
By law, most of us know that Service Dogs are allowed to go anywhere with their owner. Landlords of apartments are not allowed by law to forbid your working animal. 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. In addition, Emotional Support Dogs are also protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA), although not protected under the ADA, and Landlords also cannot forbid this kind of assistance animal either. These are TWO DIFFERENT types of assistance animals, but BOTH are protected under Fair Housing Laws. BUT WHAT HAS THAT GOT TO DO WITH ME, you might ask? Well, this is the interesting part. Let’s look at the definition of a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Dog. As I said, these are 2 different types of animals.
A 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 any disability. What is a disability? The law does not specifically define disabilities, except as any condition which prohibits you from performing or functioning normally. In the emotional sense, this could include “depression”, “stress”, dealing with social phobias 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, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, autism, dyslexia, panic attacks, separation anxiety, and the already mentioned stress, 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 your dog assists you with coping with any of these conditions.
If you have any of these impairments, then you could probably qualify to have your dog registered as an official “Emotional Support Dog”. The process is easier than you might think. 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, your dog will be found in the searchable database, identifying him as a Certified Emotional Support Animal.
It is not required by law for an Emotional Support Dog to be registered anywhere, to receive any kind of specialized formal training, OR to wear a harness or have identification. The law does require all of that for Service dogs, but not for Emotional Support Dogs. However, you can order the badge and harness from NSARCO once your dog is registered. This is simply to assist in identifying your dog to the leasing office and all other tenants so they will know your dog is a working animal. When other renters see you with your normally restricted dog breed on property, they will not be upset or complain to the office if they can clearly see the identification. It also makes it easier for the apartments when they can examine these credentials.
In addition to having this proof that your dog is registered, some landlords might ask for a letter or “prescription” from a doctor or therapist verifying that you do, indeed, have a disability. They are within their rights legally to request such medical evidence. If you do not have a therapist or doctor at the moment who can give you this letter or prescription, then you can visit: www.CPTAS.com to obtain one. The letter or prescription from the therapist/doctor needs to substantiate your need for the service animal in helping you to function, although it does not need to go into detail about the nature of your disability.
Once your dog is certified as an official Emotional Support Dog, and you have the letter from a real doctor or therapist, no landlord can legally refuse to house you AND your dog. From that moment on, your dog is no longer in the category of “pet” (therefore pet policies no longer apply to you). Instead, your animal falls into the category of “medical aid”.
In addition, landlords are not allowed by law to question you as to the nature of your disability. If they try, simply mention the Fair Housing Law. 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 apartment options should not be limited to ONLY the small percentage of properties that allow all breeds. Instead, you should be able to apply at any apartment, even if that property normally does not accept pets at all.
These are just a few tips for the pet owner of a restricted breed, outlining some steps you can take to make your apartment search go much more smoothly.
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” or “eviction”, which will damage your rental history and leave a mark on your credit. 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.
Find Dallas Apartments That Allow Restricted Dog Breeds Now!
* 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.