Some dogs have a bad reputation as dangerous beasts, but many owners of Pit Bulls, German Shepherds and Rottweilers would insist that their dogs are harmless. Yet some public housing authorities may choose to ban breeds haunted by the wrong stigma.
Breed myths have led to families being separated from their beloved four-legged friend, and Texas is unfortunately a leader in shelter murders. The Lone Star State has one of the highest numbers of pets euthanized each year, according to a press release from Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit animal welfare organization.
At national scale, there are 100,000 more pets in shelters today there was around this time last year, but Best Friends and other animal advocates are trying to change that. The number one reason people say they give up their dogs is because of housing barriers, said Laura Donahue, the group’s legal and advocacy director.
Sometimes a dog owner has to choose between keeping their pet or having a home. “It’s quite tragic because it’s a human problem, so the #1 reason isn’t the dog’s fault; it’s not because of the dog’s behavior or anything like that,” Donahue said. “There’s no doubt this has an impact on families because we know people feel like their pet is their family.”
Donahue and other animal advocates are urging Congress to pass legislation that would end pet discrimination in public accommodations. But this is not the first push to ban the practice.
Last year, the State House passed a bill that, if passed, would have required pet-friendly housing authorities to comply with local restrictions on dangerous dogs, meaning they won’t could not ban specific breeds. Dallas Democratic State Representative John Turner and fellow Denton Republican Lynn Stucky, a veterinarian, were co-sponsors of the bill.
Meanwhile, more than 60,000 social housing units dot the state of Texasaccording to the WFAA.
“I know firsthand the joy pets can bring to a home.” – U.S. Representative Colin Allred
Even though state legislation spat out last session, Congress is considering something similar.
the Family Owned Pets Act would ban race-based pet restrictions in social housing while allowing discretion based on unsafe behavior. He won bipartisan support from Congress, including Texas’ own U.S. Representative Colin Allred.
The Dallas Democrat, who was once an official with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, said he was proud to support the effort.
“I know firsthand the joy pets can bring to a home and it breaks my heart that Texas has the highest rate of animal kills in shelters. But we can take bipartisan action to help more animals find loving homes,” Allred said by email. “Congress can reform our laws so that federally supported housing allows more breeds for families who want to give a pet in need a nice, loving home.”
Several organizations also support the bill, such as the American Kennel Club and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Donahue argues that it’s not fair for taxpayer-funded boarding establishments to set criteria based on a dog’s appearance, which does not determine its behavior. Those dependent on social housing likely have few options, so being displaced could lead to living on the streets or in homeless shelters, she said.
Even boxers have certain lists of prohibited breeds, a fact that Donahue says made him “laugh out loud.” (The American Kennel Club describes Boxers as intelligent, playful, loyal, and excellent with children.)
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, animal shelters across the country reported being emptied as people rushed to adopt. This is no longer the case, she says.
Donahue asks people to contact their U.S. representatives and urge them to co-sponsor the bill: “It’s a tiny step in the right direction, and something we can do to keep people from having to choose between their home and their pet. ”