Pets in the City


I thought renting a beach house for the family down the Jersey Shore (New Jerseyans prefer to say it this way) would be a great summer vacation this year. I could get a house within a stone’s throw of the ocean, fill the fridge with some steaks, snacks and beverages, and knock back a few cold ones over the course of a relaxing week or two.

That won’t be happening this summer. It seems that just about any place decent enough to be rented will not allow pets. If Cooper, my Westie, cannot go, the rest of us are not going either. Guess I will be hanging around the backyard again this year.

Frankly, I did not think much of it until I read an Internet article last month that says there has been a surge of owners in San Francisco who are abandoning their pets due to their inability to find pet-friendly housing. According to SF SPCA, a non-profit animal welfare group, one in four people who left their pets with them cited problems finding pet-friendly housing over the last year.

It seems that San Francisco is a hot city to live in these days, but it has a limited supply of housing. That combination, plus an influx of highly paid workers, means that landlords no longer have to bend over backwards to please potential renters in the City by the Bay. One of the first things to go, it appears, is pets.

San Francisco and New York have always been pet-friendly cities. Landlords looking to get top dollar for their apartments have traditionally been quite willing to sign leases that allow for animals to live in their buildings.

That is no longer the case, and it is a disturbing trend for the pet industry. As more affluent consumers return to urban areas—especially empty-nesters who have long cherished pet ownership—they are making decisions whether to include taking their pets along. Fewer landlords allowing pets will only force many people into making a hard decision: apartment or pet? Sometimes, the pet does not win.

Consumers, of course, can fight back. First, they can hold their ground against their potential landlords. If enough speak up and threaten action, it might make a difference. Pet retailers must organize as well. They also need to make it clear that they are going to bat for their pets.

Their businesses—at least for those who operate in these big cities—are at stake.

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