Debate over pet-friendly rentals heats up


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Right now, it's up to property owners to decide if they'll allow pets. But a city commission is looking at forcing landlords to accept them with one member even calling it, essentially, a civil rights issue.

San Francisco is a city where dogs are said to outnumber children, where those who have pets are officially called guardians not owners.

It is also a city where Charlene Premyodhin found it incredibly hard to find a landlord who was OK with her Rottweiler-German Shepherd mix.

"The place we're living at now, the only reason we're allowed to have a dog is because our cousin is the landlord. But at every other place, we haven't been able to have a dog," she said.

Noni Richen is listing some of the damage from pets that even a hefty security deposit doesn't necessarily cover. She's the president of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco, whose members are going nuts over a proposal that could force landlords to accept tenants with pets.

"We've had more responses on this than to any other question. It's the loss of control over our property that seems to have people up in arms," said Richen.

The proposal being debated is designed to reduce the number of animals turned over to shelters or even euthanized because those who want them can't find housing.

The SPCA tries to educate would-be guardians about being responsible owners and even recommends resumes extolling their dogs and cats' virtues in hopes of finding pet-friendly landlords.

"It's our goal to save as many lives as possible and if there is housing available that would be a big boon," said Jan McHugh-Smith from the San Francisco SPCA.

Animal Care and Control commissioners ABC7 talked with say they hope to come up with a compromise everyone can live with. Right now everything's up for discussion.

"Should there be any restrictions? What do you mean by pets, just dogs and cats? Do you include turtles, horses, pigs, that sort of thing," said Commission President Sally Stephens.

This issue has come up before. Three years ago, one dog owner suggested landlords receive an annual tax credit if they allow pets, but that proposal never got off the ground.

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