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Moving? Your Pet Needs a Resume

In my local community, and on several online groups for adults without children, people are often frustrated that that they can’t find a home or apartment to rent because they own pets.

This situation is leading to a growing number of older pets being torn from their families so that the owner can secure a rental. The problem is so bad that some communities have banned “re-homing” posts on their local discussion boards.

Many rental laws across the US stop landlords from discriminating against families with small children. But, those laws allow landlords the ability to deny renting to people with pets. Sometimes, restrictions are only for so-called “dangerous” pets such as pit bulls. In the past, Rottweilers were the dog-ona non grata.

Some landlords can’t stomach the idea that a cat might scratch up the carpeting, even though not all cats scratch up carpeting. Urination, destruction, liability, and more are all reasons given for not renting to our precious pets, even kittens. (Below: Karen Malone Wright's cat, Frankie, is just a year old.)

But that doesn’t mean that every time you move, you need to give Fido to a new family. One possible solution is to create a Pet Resume.

Pet Resume 101

1. Go ahead and try. Just because a Craigslist rental post says “No Pets”, it doesn’t mean the policy is set in stone. Argue the point if you have all the right information. When reaching out to the landlord, offer something like,

“I understand that your house is listed as ‘no pets,’ but I wanted to give you some information about my Daisy. She’s a small rescue mix and has never been a problem in previous homes."

2. Have references. You will probably need to provide references for yourself as a renter,so include some good words about your companion animal. Anyone who has witnessed your dog or cat’s good behavior is an excellent choice.

Maybe you work with a reputable pet sitter in town. Or, perhaps a previous landlord is willing to write a short letter of recommendation for Spot.

3. Create documentation. I am not a renter, but I do love to travel and stay at AirBnBs. Sometimes, we bring our cat. Short-term rentals can list whether or not they accept pets, but I’ve learned that often they are only expecting dogs. Cats present a whole new set of challenges.

So, I created a template that shares all of my cat's best qualities. This letter tells a prospective renter that Piglet (below) is a leash-trained senior cat with excellent litter box and scratching post habits. I have played on their sympathies by letting them know she’s a cancer survivor, and it works.

4. Try Facebook. Another strategy that has worked for me is Piglet’s Facebook page. I started it many years ago when I was bored and alone at my job. For a while, it was just a place to post funny photos.

Then, when Piglet was in surgery and recovery for cancer, it was a good resource to keep friends and family up to date without flooding my own wall. It has also turned into a great resource to send to potential renters so they can see what we mean when we say Piglet is a good cat.

There are other important rules to follow:

Don’t lie about having a pet and then sneak it in. If the landlord finds out, especially due to any damage the animal caused, you and your pet are in a more precarious situation.

It is also illegal for landlords to refuse a service dog, so there is a trend to buy those credentials for any household pet. I don’t recommend that either. Instead, be up front and gracious, and if the first landlord says no, keep trying.

Are you a renter? What has your experience been when it comes to finding a place to live with your pet?

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