ASPCA and Humane Rescue Alliance Welcome Improvements to D.C. Housing Authority’s Pet Policy

While new policy signals progress – such as no breed restrictions – it still bars two-thirds of DCHA residents from owning pets
February 10, 2017

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) commend the adoption of a new pet policy that will allow pets in D.C. Housing Authority senior and disabled public housing units for the first time in over a decade. For 13 years, DCHA denied the right of pet ownership to its residents, in violation of federal law. The advocacy efforts of the ASPCA and HRA will help open up 2,738 new homes to pets in Washington, D.C.

But while the new policy expansion signals substantial progress, it won’t apply to residents in a majority of DCHA properties.

 “We are pleased to see DCHA adopt a pet policy that will open the door to thousands of new homes for pets currently waiting to be adopted from local shelters and rescue groups,” said Deborah Dubow Press, director of regulatory affairs for the ASPCA. “But we will continue to fight for those residents excluded from the policy who are eager to share their loving homes with a new pet.”

“DCHA’s new policy represents a step forward which we applaud, but more work needs to be done,” said David M. Smith, chief communications officer at the Humane Rescue Alliance. “While more residents can enjoy pets as a result of the new policy, many more are still excluded which we vow to continue to challenge.”

Based on feedback DCHA received during the public commenting period in January, the agency made several improvements to the final policy. DCHA increased the size restrictions for dogs to a maximum of 40 pounds and 20 inches, which will allow more types of dogs. It also offered amnesty to any resident who currently has a pet, regardless of the animal’s size, as long as owners register their animals within 90 days. DCHA also agreed to make pet deposits for cats and dogs refundable.

While the ASPCA and HRA believe any animal size limit is arbitrary and unjustified, they note DCHA’s rule is more lenient than those of other housing authorities. The policy is also unusual among housing authority pet rules for not restricting dogs based on breed.

For more information about the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit

For more information on the Humane Rescue Alliance, please visit