ASPCA Commends U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development for Rejecting Pet Prohibitions in Public Housing

ASPCA and Washington Humane Society offer to work with D.C. Housing Authority to develop pet-friendly policies in Washington, D.C. public housing
August 10, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In response to objections raised by the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and the Washington Humane Society (WHS), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has determined that a Washington, D.C. ban on pets in public housing violates federal law. As a result, the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA) will now amend its policy and allow pets in housing for the elderly and disabled. The ASPCA and WHS commend HUD for its decision to work with the DCHA to implement a new pet policy that complies with federal law. DCHA’s current pet policy prohibits all pets in D.C. housing projects with the exception of pets already living in senior buildings before 2005.

“When tenants are forced to relinquish their animals due to no-pet provisions in their leases, it has a devastating impact on owners and a life-threatening impact on pets. No one should have to choose between their home and their pet,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President & CEO. “Public housing policies should embrace the important role of pets in families, and we appreciate HUD’s efforts to keep these beloved animals and their families together.”

“We are thrilled that residents and families in DCHA properties will soon enjoy the benefits that pets bring to people’s lives. The love, friendship and companionship pets bring are good for everyone,” states Stephanie Shain, chief operating officer for the Washington Humane Society. “More homes looking for animals means more adoptions – which is critically important to saving the lives of local animals. We look forward to welcoming all the new soon-to-be pet owners into our Adoption Centers.”

In its communications with HUD, the ASPCA and Washington Humane Society argued that DCHA’s pet policy fails to comply with federal law and disregards the benefits of pet ownership to residents. In its response, HUD indicated it would work with DCHA to revise the policy to ensure it is in compliance with the Housing and Urban-Rural Recovery Act of 1983. This law mandates that owners and managers of federally assisted rental housing for the elderly and disabled cannot prohibit any tenant from having common household pets in their housing accommodations.

“Pets provide a source of constant, uncomplicated comfort and have been shown to enhance health and wellbeing, particularly for the elderly and people with disabilities, but DCHA’s current policy creates a barrier for those who stand to benefit from having pets,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “We look forward to working with DCHA to craft a model pet policy that benefits pets and people.”

Other groups who support the proposed changes to DCHA’s pet policy include the AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Bread for the City, Legal Aid of the District of Columbia, and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.

The ASPCA has conducted extensive research focused on pet homelessness and has found that lack of affordable pet friendly housing is consistently a driver for relinquishment. For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit