Your pit bull may be the sweetest pup in town, but laws and fears regarding breeds such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier may make it harder to find a place to live. While some jurisdictions focus on tracking dogs with a history of aggression instead of passing breed-specific legislation, some landlords have blanket bans on breeds. Make your apartment hunt a bit easier by looking in the right place and proving your pit is a good citizen.
Allowed in Town
Make sure you're looking in an area of town that allows pit bulls. Several hundred cities in the United States have some sort of breed-specific legislation, though this can vary from outright bans to mandatory sterilization. Put your search within the parameters of the law, such as outside the city limits of a town that has restrictions or across the line of the neighboring county.
For any jurisdiction you're considering, check with the county or city animal control to make sure you're within the laws of ownership before even attempting to rent, and check with the city council or county board of supervisors to see if they're currently considering breed ordinances.
You can even ask for written certification from your jurisdiction that your dog has never been involved in any complaints to animal control or been involved in any aggressive incidents. If your dog is adopted from a shelter or rescue group, you can ask for a copy of the temperament test that was conducted by shelter staff before your pup was put up for adoption. These can help pave your path to a rental contract.
Good Dog Test
Make sure your pit bull is well-trained before approaching a prospective landlord. You want your dog to show that he's on his best behavior. Better yet, you can offer third-party certification that your pit bull is a gentleman. The American Kennel Club offers a 10-point Canine Good Citizen test that can help put a landlord's mind at ease. Puppies who have had their first shots to senior dogs are eligible, and you can either take training classes or train your pup yourself in order to prepare for the test.
Some dog trainers are also AKC-approved evaluators. Check with the AKC to find a dog evaluator near you; the tests can take place on an individual basis or at AKC dog shows. Even if your dog trainer is not AKC-certified, a letter assuring that your dog has taken and passed obedience courses may help in finding a rental.
You're now ready to hunt. Some apartment search sites cater to pet owners, while broader rental sites offer filters to only search pet-friendly properties. When you begin scoping out rental listings, know that just because those welcome words "pets allowed" are on the ad doesn't necessarily mean that your dog will be accepted. Look for the fine print of "breed restrictions" to see if your pit is prohibited, and ask for their specific policies if you have a mixed breed.
Approach local pit bull rescue groups or owner playgroups and ask where they've had good experiences renting. Make sure that any breed restrictions or absence of restrictions are included in your rental contract. This protects you from a landlord coming at you during the lease and saying your dog is not allowed.
Be prepared to present certification from your vet that your dog is spayed or neutered as well as up-to-date on vaccinations. According to the ASPCA, a dog that hasn't been neutered is 2.6 times more likely to bite. Present proof of renter's insurance and be prepared to offer an additional deposit if necessary.
Once a landlord allows you to rent, don't give him any reason to discriminate against your pit bull. Obey leash laws when letting your dog out and make sure he doesn't get overexcited around neighbors who may not be thrilled with the idea of a pit bull next door. Pick up all waste when you take your dog out to do his business.
Make sure your pup's not making noise when no one's home during the day, and consider doggie daycare if he needs to let out steam or if maintenance needs to come into the apartment. Get to know other dog owners in the neighborhood so that there's a network of support in case someone complains about the mere presence of your pit.
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