Today my husband and I went out in search of a new apartment. Our current apartment isn’t all that bad, but we can hear our upstairs neighbors pretty clearly, we need a little more space, and, perhaps the reason most prevalent in my mind – I would like to have a cat.
I guess it’s sort of silly to move from one apartment to another just so you can acquire feline companionship, but I think pets are an important part of life. My husband will be deploying in March (2 months away) and I have only been in this town for about 6 months. Most of the other military wives that I’ve met are going back to their hometowns to live with their parents. They are continuing school or want their children to be able to spend time with their grandparents. I, however, am staying around the base. I have a job here already, and I don’t want to have to move everything we own into a storage unit and then restart the apartment hunting process again when my husband returns. My point here is, I’m going to be living alone for a year, and I’ve never done that before. I’ve always had my parents, my roommates, or my husband around.
Because of this, I want to get a cat. The problem is that so many apartments are anti-pet. Many complexes disallow them outright, but the ones that DO allow them charge exorbitant fees to discourage renters who have pets or who plan to adopt one. Most charge a one-time non-refundable fee between $200 and $400, plus a monthly fee ranging from $10-30. I think this is silly. I can understand having extra for a security deposit, because yes, sometimes our animal friends stain the carpets, scratch up the walls, or otherwise damage our homes if they aren’t trained properly. But if your animal does not do these things, and you leave your apartment the way it was when you moved in, then you should get that deposit back. And why is there an extra fee per month? That simply makes no sense at all. Landlords don’t charge an extra fee per person, so why have an extra fee per pet? That money does not go towards any special services provided – they do not take your dog for walks for you, they don’t empty your cat’s litter box.
Rarely do these fees take into account the size and temperament of your animal. You will pay the same $350 plus $20 a month for a beagle or collie as you will for a gerbil or a goldfish. This is ridiculous, as smaller animals generally cause less damage than larger ones. Most places ban “aggressive” breeds of dogs (Dobermans, Pit Bulls, etc) but many of these animals are very friendly and congenial if they are raised properly. Abused animals and animals that are trained to be aggressive (as attack dogs, for example) are going to be more belligerent and potentially cause more problems than other animals. So if you have a Pit Bull that you’ve raised from a puppy and he’s the friendliest dog in the world, it doesn’t matter to the apartment. He’s a pit bull, and you will have to get rid of him or move elsewhere. Restrictions like this are why animal shelters are full of large dogs, especially the “aggressive” breeds.
This kind of discrimination toward pet owners (or would-be pet owners) is very frustrating. Pets provide companionship for those of us who may get lonely – military spouses with no family or close friends nearby, widows and widowers, the blind person who needs a seeing-eye dog, even the lonely soldier who just wants his childhood pet to join him in his new duty station. Apartment complexes need to be more open-minded and have a more common-sense approach to pet ownership on their property.