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Norwich Bulletin - 11/15/2009

Your Moving When?

I have so many people call me to say they have to move in two days and need to find their dog or cat a new home. Well, to start with, I do not take in people's pets – but the truth is I will be very upset that you waited until the last minute to consider your pet. I do not believe anyone should move without their dog or cat – it is the owner’s responsibility to take care of the animal they chose to bring into their home. So my first question is, why didn't you find a place to move to with your pet?

It was too hard? That’s a poor excuse – there are apartments that will not allow children. So does that mean you would leave your children behind when you move? Of course not – even suggesting that is absurd. So why would you leave the furry kids behind? There are steps you can take when looking for pet friendly housing. The first and very important step, being to give yourself enough time to find an apartment or house to rent that will allow you to keep you cat or dog. You need to start checking ads, contacting real estate agents and rental agencies at least two months before your lease expires.

In this economy, many people are finding they cannot keep their homes. This is the time you need to keep your pet. Even though many landlords have had bad experiences with irresponsible pet owners, you will be able to sell yourself as a person committed to providing responsible pet care if you try. And you owe it to yourself and your four footed friends to do that. They will bring you a lot of comfort when you find yourself in a smaller place because you could not afford your home anymore.

So there are many resources that can help you find what you are looking for. You can contact the humane society or animal care and control agencies serving the area into which you are moving and see if they can provide you with a list of apartment communities that allow pets. If you know a rental agent that has pets of his or her own, perhaps you can find a sympathetic ear and have a better chance of them finding you a pet friendly rental.

You can also check the community apartment guidebook that is put out locally in the area you are moving to and they may have something that indicates which apartment complexes allow animals, as well as any restrictions that may apply. A great tool is, of course, the internet and you can check out links to websites for pet friendly rental properties all over the United States by logging onto www.rentwithpets.org.

If there are large apartment complexes with definite no pet policies, they are probably not the place to start looking. You are more likely to be successful if you focus on places that allow some pets or smaller complexes where the landlord has the ability to be flexible. Then you need to sell yourself and your pet.

Gather documentation to share with any potential apartment owners, including, a letter of reference from your current landlord or condominium association verifying that you have always been a responsible pet owner; written proof that your dog has completed or is enrolled in a training class and a letter from your veterinarian stating you have kept up your pet's vaccinations and that your pet is spayed or neutered (which makes for a healthier, calmer pet).

And don’t start with the manager - go straight to the top when making your request. Find out who has the ultimate authority to say yes or no and try to find out what previous experiences have made the landlord negative when it comes to considering pets. If you understand why someone feels the way they do, it gives you more power on how to possibly change their mind.

Promote yourself and your pet. Let the landlord know you will be an excellent tenant and long term because you had to work extra hard to find a place to rent that would allow you to keep your cat or dog. Offer to bring your pet to meet the owner or property manager. Make sure you make clear that you keep your cat inside or your dog under control and all times and that you understand the health and safety benefits of doing so.

If you are lucky and get an okay, be sure to get it in writing! Have a pet addendum added to your rental agreement. Rental agreements protect not only the landlord, but also the tenant and the pet! The no-pets clause should be removed from the lease, or crossed out and initialed BEFORE you sign it

It isn't easy finding a new place to live with a pet. It will take diligence and some good persuasive powers. But didn't you make a commitment to the pet that is presently living with you and offering you unconditional love? Isn't that extra time and effort worth it? I have to admit, if I tried all of the above suggestions and still failed, I know I would sneak my cat anywhere I had to in order to keep him with me. While that certainly isn’t the best way to do it, if my choice was that or to give him up, I would choose the former. So if I am willing to do something I cannot recommend to others, then surely I am not the person to call to take your pet when you move.

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