On October 12, the Joint Committee on Housing held a hearing on an important piece of legislation, S. 885/H. 1437: An Act to maintain stable housing for families with pets in an economic crisis and beyond.
These bills would provide new housing protections to dog owners. Currently, many state funded housing and homeowners insurance companies have policies in place that discriminate against dog owners based on the size, weight, or perceived breed of their dog. Responsible Massachusetts dog owners are being told that they are not welcome in certain housing markets if they own medium or larger dogs, or certain breeds (or a dog who looks like one of those breeds). Others are denied insurance even though their dog has no history of biting whatsoever. The range of breeds affected by these discriminatory practices is staggering, and includes Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Dobermans, Pit Bull Terriers, Dalmatians, and Rottweilers. This legislation would remove many of these housing barriers, helping not only dogs, but their families, too.
The ramifications of discriminatory dog policies are far reaching. Oftentimes, a family finds themselves having to choose between quality, affordable housing and keeping their dog. Though heart-wrenching, many families have no choice but to surrender their dog, particularly given the housing shortage crisis in the Commonwealth. The surrendering of a family dog can be a traumatic experience, both for the dog and the people, especially children. Further, because these policies are discriminatory in nature—targeting specific perceived breeds and certain sized dogs—the number of these dogs in shelters is disproportionally represented, thereby reinforcing stereotypes about certain dogs and reducing their chances of being adopted.
The bottom line is that no one should have to choose between their well-behaved dog and their home. By requiring certain housing and insurance providers to focus on an individual dog’s behavior, they will no longer be able to arbitrarily restrict responsible owners from keeping their companion animals.
Please help ensure passage of these bills. The next step is for the bill to be released favorably from the Joint Committee on Housing. Contact your state senator and state representative and ask them to support S. 885/H. 1437. Visit our website to learn more: https://www.mspca.org/animal_protection/housingandinsurancebill/