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Moving with a Pit Bull or other (so-called) "Dangerous Breeds"

“We’re moving – we can’t find a landlord who’ll let us keep our dog.” Many landlords don’t allow children either but you’d never give up one of your kids if you couldn’t find the right apartment. — Pit Bull Rescue Central

Last year we decided to move out of our current sweet little house to try out something new. Finding a new place is not difficult, especially right now. I had the feeling that there are more vacancies than renters. The most important things for us are to have a dog-friendly home with enough space for creativity, and in an area where I can reach places by walking. After we checked many different places, we agreed on Downtown L.A.

Our friends had been promoting Downtown as a super dog-friendly, trendy and vibrant city center. So, we focused on Downtown. After all, we’d never had the experience of living in the center of a busy city. It took us many drives and weekends to find the right place, and I have to admit… moving from a house with a backyard to an apartment without even a balcony was a hurdle I had to jump.

I want to describe a very special experience I had while we were looking for the perfect place ūüôā with our two dogs (a French Bulldog and a Pit Bull Mix). One Sunday we visited one of the big nice¬†buildings¬†in the old bank district of Downtown, to take a tour with Lilly (our silly French Bulldog) and to explore the vacant units. We always asked if they have breed, weight or size¬†restrictions¬†and most of them said No. We were pleasantly surprised and I had the feeling that everyone living Downtown owns at least one dog. You can see every kind of breed, mix, size… it was incredible. Pit Bulls en masse everywhere.

RED - enjoying his couch time and being DANGEROUS

But back to the story… we did this tour to see the available¬†apartments and amenities of the¬†building. Lilly was on the leash with us and our Pit Bull Mix Red was waiting in our car outside. We thought it was a good idea to bring both dogs in case they want to meet them both, to show them how cute,¬†friendly¬†and loving our dogs are.

Then, in the elevator on our way back to the lobby, I asked the building manager again about the breed restrictions. This time he elaborated:

“We don’t have any problems with dogs, we love dogs, we just don’t allow THESE DANGEROUS/AGGRESSIVE breeds like: Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chow-Chows, German Shepherds, Mastiffs and actually every dog over 50 pounds.”

He sounded as though he were actually disgusted by the breeds he named.

“A Labrador would be fine,” he continued, “and a French Bulldog is not a problem at all.”

“‘Dangerous/Aggressive breeds’,” I repeated. “Interesting.”

We liked the place but weren’t crazy about it, so David and I didn’t say anything but looked at each other and smiled. I thought it was not necessary to argue with this guy. After we had left we took Red out for a walk to a nice little green spot to sniff the area out. While we where walking around we saw the guy from the¬†building¬†walking with a small dog towards us. He recognized our DANGEROUS breed on the leash and just ignored us by looking in a total different direction. An awkward moment, but it made David and me laugh out loud.

This is Samson - our Mastiff - just passed away last year in September. He moved 5 times with me, even from Germany to the U.S.

Our Red¬†definitely¬†narrowed down the places we were able to rent… and this is a fact if you have a Pit Bull. Many landlords see the Pit Bull breed as a¬†liability¬†issue; they don’t have¬† experience with the breed or they’re simply afraid of them. Finding a pet-friendly apartment can be tough because some landlords have restrictive apartment pet policies.

After three months we finally found our new home in a historic building close to the Civic Center, a place which of course allows dogs, even Pit Bulls. We had to get renters insurance and pay an additional deposit for the dogs. I even thought about taking classes with Red to pass the Canine Good Citizenship Test which usually helps to convince landlords as well.

If you are thinking about moving, make sure you can take your dog(s) with you. Renting with a pet requires attention, diligence and foresight during an apartment search as well as once you have moved into your pet friendly apartment.¬†Never, never, never give up on them or dump them somewhere because¬†of your own selfish needs. Keep in mind that looking for a place to rent with a Pit Bull or other big breed is not easy, but it is possible… and be honest, don’t sneak your pet in without permission.

I did my research and found some sources I want to share with everyone. I also want to pass along my own tips:

  1. Consider first what you really want and need (a house, apartment, loft, townhouse, house boat…), and give yourself plenty of time to find the right place.
  2. Ask if you can introduce your dog to the landlord. Once they see how well-behaved it is, even a landlord who has said ‘no’ to pets just for an easy life may come to reconsider.
  3. Show your landlord that you are a responsible dog owner. Offer to pay a higher deposit.
  4. Check out PitBull Rescue Central’s website.¬†Nice blog entry from Stubby dog.¬†A pdf file provided by BAD RAP. Get the file here. Also¬†Check Dog Law. Good luck!