Officials discuss pet policies for renters

November 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
In San Francisco, it is pet owners versus property owners. They came face to face Thursday night at City Hall where a commission is considering forcing landlords to accept tenants with pets.

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San Francisco is a city that is said to have more dogs than children, yet pet owners will tell you, it's not easy to rent in San Francisco.

Mara Math spoke of her struggles as a dog owner before the Commission of Animal Control and Welfare.

"Good, decent, kind people said to me, 'Why don't you put him to sleep now, you'll find it easier to find a place.' That's how bad the rental market is here," said Math.

Some members of the commission are hoping to change that -- they want to submit a recommendation to the board of supervisors lifting rental restrictions on pet owners.

The hope is that it will reduce the number of animals being surrendered and euthanized at shelters.

Commissioner Philip Gerrie came up with the idea. He said "It's a very easy way, at least from our perspective, to provide more homes for adoptable animals."

However, property owners and managers say the burden of homeless animals shouldn't be forced on them. Their concerns range from allergy issues to damage to their units.

"It's not a right to me for someone to have a pet. It's an honor and a choice. It's not something a landlord should be forced to allow in their building and there is damage," said Elizabeth Miller from the Professional Property Management Association.

"Over 50 percent of the dogs at the city pound are pit bulls. Is that what you're planning on doing, unloading these pit bulls into our buildings?" said Andrew Long from the San Francisco Apartment Association.

The Commission of Animal Control and Welfare didn't make a decision Thursday night. They plan to come up with more specific language on how to move this proposal forward.

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