Luna and Memphis are waiting to be adopted from Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center after being surrendered by their families.

Both dogs were surrendered to the animal shelter when their families couldn’t find rental properties that would allow dogs.

Luna is a Belgian Malinois mix who was told she could no longer stay in the house that her family was renting.

“They searched everywhere but could not find pet-friendly housing and they were devastated,” Megan Gram, executive director of Saving Grace said. “Luna is having a tough time adjusting to the shelter and has been very sad in her kennel.”

Memphis had been living in a house, which was sold to a new owner who decided not to allow pets. “Memphis’ dad waited until he was faced with becoming homeless himself before finally making the terribly difficult decision to surrender him,” Gram said.

But Memphis and Luna aren’t alone. Gram said there has been a significant increase in pets who were surrendered because they were not allowed at rental properties.

Last year, the shelter saw nine animals a month surrendered for this reason. This year, the average has been 16 pets a month.

“It’s just heartbreaking.” Gram said. “Folks who have maybe had their pet for their entire lives, you know 10-12 years. These are older, and a lot of times bigger dogs. The landlord says all of a sudden that they can’t have them, and these families are broken up.

“It’s just awful, people have to make the choice between a roof over their heads and their best friend in a lot of situations. It’s one of the hardest things to see here at the shelter, honestly, to see them saying goodbye in the parking lot,” Gram said.

Saving Grace is hoping a new program, Pets Are Welcome, will help pets stay with their families.

The national program was designed by the Humane Society and helps designate property management companies as PAW-friendly in areas throughout the United States.

This program requires the property management company or landlord or owner of the property to allow all animals with no restrictions.

Saving Grace plans to provide assistance to help make this program attractive in the area, such as assistance with vaccines, spay/neuter and offering pet supplies for low-income families, access to a newsletter with behavior tips and solutions to common problems, marketing and advertising on social media and website for the management company. Gram said they may also be able to provide assistance with building fences or behavioral training in some circumstances — landlords would have access to resources like this simply by calling the shelter anytime.

Gram said she’s talked to a few individual owners who rent their homes about the program, but hopes to continue the conversation with more property owners, landlords and property managers.

“I think that we’re at a pivotal moment in the growth of Douglas County where we are seeing a lot of people moving to the area and purchasing land and purchasing property, and it’s going to change the way that our community feels,” Gram said. “Our community is, I think, very pet friendly. We love our pets here, people are really passionate about their dogs and cats.”

Roseburg residents also include a larger than average number of renters. According to data from 2019, 45% of Roseburg residents were renters compared to 37% statewide.

Several local rental companies did not return phone calls for interview requests.

Many rental properties in Douglas County that were marketed as pet-friendly still had breed or size restrictions in place.

“It doesn’t matter if the dog is 70 pounds or 25 pounds or however big it is,” Gram said. “It doesn’t matter what breed it is. It’s been shown that you know there’s not really a correlation between the breed and its tendency to be violent or aggressive.”

Gram added that responsible pet owners can take a large dog for long walks or play in the park if they live in a smaller space, but that small dogs still need space too.

Home insurance companies, including State Farm and Pemco, have started to remove breed restrictions, making it possible for property owners to insure themselves.

“I hope that people are willing to acknowledge that pets are family and that the entire family deserves to move into that rental home,” Gram said. “Not just the people, but they deserve to be able to bring their furry family members with them too.”

Sanne Godfrey is a freelance writer and a former employee of The News-Review

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(4) comments

Scott Mendelson

Several times a week, I am asked to write a letter to a landlord saying that my patient needs their dog as a companion animal to maintain their mental health. I hate writing these letters. They are an utter waste of my time and training. However, I always agree to write them because the only thing I hate more than these wretched letters are the cold, cruel landlords that won't allow a family to keep their much loved pet. Of course, vicious, dangerous animals are the exception. But aside from that, everyone should have the right to own and keep a pet. They are a wonderful addition to life. Just for people to know, the internet is now full of therapists and psychologists that charge a fee to write a letter for a "companion animal" with virtually no questions asked. If landlords can be defeated in their cruel game, then I am all for it.

Kungfuricky

Dr. Mendelson - you sir are part of the landlords problem. Here's what I've seen in 98% of those homes you write that wretched letter for: built up feces in the yard, feces/urine on carpets/flooring which has to be replaced, clawed or chewed on walls, trim or baseboard, pet hair in fridge fans, ac, etc, broken/damaged blinds, complaints about barking... are just a few of these problems. Let's say Joe's deposit was $1000. Having the carpet/flooring replaced costs more than the deposit. That's just one piece of the destruction left my tenants. Its those type of tenants with their beloved pet that ruins it for the responsible pet renters. Let's educate our families on responsible pet owning instead of blaming the landlord supplying that roof over their heads :)

Scott Mendelson

I never said that people shouldn't be responsible for their pets. Did I? Destructive or dangerous animals shouldn't be allowed. But blanket refusals to allow pets is cruel and unnecessary. By the way, the landlords don't supply a roof over anyone's head, People PAY for that roof.

CitizenJoe

Kungfuricky: 98%, eh? I think that's part of the 87.37% of all statistics that are made up on the spot (pun intended).

I'm a landlord. Sole tenant has 3 cats and has had up to three dogs and 3 cats.

100% of these tenants have been responsible, clean, and thoughtful.

Kinda like about 98% of human beings. I'm sorry your experience has been different.

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