My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Puppy Prejudice and Breed Bashing

Has anyone filled out a rental application lately? Has anyone been investigated by the FBI
lately? Was there any difference, I ask you, between the two experiences?
As if the 99% of us didn't have enough complaints to drive people into living in tents in parks, now it's looking like that trend may become more than just an act of protest.
Now I'm not talking about trying to rent in some gold coast high rent neighborhood. I live in what is referred to as a "transitional" or "bohemian neighborhood",  in other words, right next to da hood.
I love the neighborhood. It has character and art and lots of coffee shops. It's a fun place to live but let's face it it has it quirks, street crime, drug dealers, roach infestations noisy bars the usual coterie of grubby teenagers and ragamuffins that accompanies this kind of neighborhood. That is why it has historically been a low rent haven for college students single moms and artists. As with most low rent areas it has typically been pretty easy to find a place to rent when you needed one. Pets were usually allowed because dogs are relatively cheap security systems, who can protect the owners investments as much as the tenants.
So what is it about this neighborhood that suddenly requires a rental applicant to be a model citizen with a spotless credit report? Those kind of people live in the aforementioned gold coast, not over here with hissing radiators and leaky pipes. The upper crust doesn't like sharing their leftovers with critters and they sure as hell don't want to park their BMW on the pothole filled street where roving kids will break a window just for a pack of smokes or some spare change.
I took the liberty of asking a few property owners what's up. The most challenging issue for myself and many of my friends is finding housing that allows dogs. This is not always a deal breaker, provided your dog is a small  or mid-sized mutt of ambiguous heritage. Medium to larger dogs (the ones that provide the best security) are a big no-no.
I understand that not everyone loves pets. They can be noisy, messy and unpredictable. Unfortunately there are some dogs who, by no fault of their own, are trained to be fighters and they can be dangerous. The same can be said of humans too, but unless they have a long criminal history of violence we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. We are certainly not allowed to discriminate against people based on race, thanks to the efforts of the Civil Rights activists of the 50's and 60's, but as an animal lover I have to question the morality of breed discrimination. It feels a bit like racism to me. and the fumbling rationalizations behind the policies sound awfully familiar. "I have nothing against_______(fill in blank) in fact some of them are my best friends, it's just that________(fill in blank with appropriate negative experience that has soured this person against all members of a category of person/animal, excluding their "best friends")
The next best excuse is, "it's not me, it's my insurance company" According to a few landlords, who claim they themselves have no problem with dogs, there are in fact, several breeds which are blacklisted by major insurance companies. Dobermans, Pitbulls (or any of the "bully breeds") Mastiffs and Rottweilers are the Americas Most Wanted list of the canine population. But also included are the less volatile but not-to-be-trusted German shepherds, Australian shepherds and Huskies.
There are organizations designed to educate the public on behalf of animal rights, the Rosa Parks' of the animal races. Sadly it will be a long fight to restore the image of what was once "man's best friend" in today's world of mistrust and litigation. If these property owners do in fact have no problem with dogs, why do they let insurance policies dictate their rental standards? Either man up and say you don't allow pets (plenty of others do it) or take your business elsewhere. The surest way to challenge policy is by not feeding it with money. And if there are concerns about a particular potential four legged tenant, ask for references. Talk to the animals veterinarian. Talk to neighbors, former landlords, meet the animal in person. If it bites you, fine, refuse the rental. But let's not paint all creatures with a broad brush of fear and prejudice, it's just not fair.
 © 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

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