Humane Law Forum: Bully Breeds and Leery Landlords
How breed discrimination affects your shelter
In the last Humane Law Forum (“After the Adoption,” July/August 2011), the primary subject was the post-adoption liability of shelters. The column also touched on the legal possibility of holding landlords liable for tenants’ pets.
To limit their liability, many landlords have incorporated breed-specific bans into rental agreements. These typically target perceived “bully breeds” (dogs who appear to be mostly pit bull), along with rottweilers, Dobermans, and German shepherds. Breed discrimination has also been utilized by homeowners’ and condo associations and insurance companies as a means to control the types of dogs present in shared living spaces.
Recently, one of the authors was contacted by the head of a local shelter who had become frustrated by breed discrimination, specifically in relation to pit bull-type dogs. Like shelters in most cities, Chicago-area shelters are frequently filled with pit bulls, but at the same time, pit bulls are a common target of breed discrimination. It can be difficult to find responsible potential owners who want to adopt a pit bull—but even more difficult is finding one of those adopters and having to tell her she can’t take that animal because her landlord forbids it.
In a society that prides itself on social equality, why is there such a willingness to categorize and discriminate against our pets? More practically, how do you keep breed discrimination from hindering your ability to advocate for animals?