Expanding Access to Pet-Friendly Housing

Legislative Efforts to Help Keep Pets and People Together

Girl hugging dog

Pets and people belong together. Financial circumstances alone are not reliable indicators of the capacity to love and care for a companion animal, and strong bonds between people and pets make for stronger communities.

Unfortunately, every year tens of thousands of dogs and cats are relinquished to animal shelters due to housing-related issues. In fact, a national study by the ASPCA revealed that those who rent are more likely to rehome their pets for housing issues than for any other reason.

This outcome is particularly unfortunate because pets significantly contribute to the overall well-being of the individuals and families that they live with. Pets provide companionship, comfort, consolation and a sense of security. They have positive impacts on us at every stage of life—numerous studies have shown that pet owners live longer, visit doctors less often, recover from illness more quickly and have more positive outlooks than those who do not have pets.

In addition to these benefits, the lack of pet-friendly housing results in unnecessary pet surrenders resulting in overcrowded, under-resourced animal shelters and rescue facilities.

There is no reason that people willing and able to care for their pets should be forced to part with them due to a lack of housing options.

The ASPCA’s Government Relations team has worked on numerous legislative efforts throughout the country to expand access to pet-friendly housing. In 2017, landmark legislation was passed to pave the way to ensure that pet-friendly housing was available to Californians of all economic backgrounds. California House Bill 1137 required all future housing developments financed by the state to be pet-friendly, creating thousands of new housing opportunities for families and their pets.

In the years after, similar legislation has been passed in Los Angeles County and in Nevada, where the state went one step further to prevent common interest development communities—a housing area where residents are members of a homeowner association—from restricting pets. By eliminating these unnecessary and intrusive barriers to pet companionship, these landmark protections for animals will ensure pets and the people who care for them are not needlessly separated due to arbitrary restrictions.

In 2021, a federal bill to help expand pet-friendly housing was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Pets Belong with Families Act would prohibit vague and sweeping restrictions against dogs in public housing based on breed or size, allowing families to access affordable and stable housing while keeping their pets with them. This bill would still allow housing authorities to exercise discretion in restricting potentially dangerous individual animals, but would remove housing barriers for thousands of responsible pet owners.

We plan to continue our work to advance these important measures in other states and localities. Join our Advocacy Brigade to help keep pets and people together in your community!