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Wendy Reuer, Published October 23 2010

Ex-Galleria renters with pets find few suitable housing options

When the Oct. 11 fire at the Galleria On 42nd apartment building left nearly 150 Fargo renters homeless, many were faced with an even more difficult challenge of finding housing quickly; they were forced to find pet-friendly housing.

The problem immediately faced Becky Black, a Galleria resident and co-owner of Doggie Depot in Moorhead. She needed to find housing for herself, her parrot, Sugar, and 85-pound rottweiler Gracie.

Even though Black’s pets go to work with her every day, she was unable to find a place that would accept both without a note from her doctor, which she was forced to get this week.

Black said finding pet-friendly housing can be difficult.

“Even some of the places we called after the fire ­didn’t even allow caged pets, like rabbits, hamsters, birds,” Black said. “I think we are seeing more and more apartments compared to a few years back, but still, it’s not an easy task.”

Dan Hollwegner, vice president of operations for Investors Management & Marketing, the company that managed the Galleria On 42nd complex, said he expects it may be difficult for tenants to find apartments that accommodate pets.

“Even in our portfolio, we don’t have many pet-friendly apartments,” Hollwegner said.

Some properties that allow pets charge pet rent. Most require a pet deposit, which may not be refundable.

A list compiled by the F-M Humane Society has about 50 properties that accept at least one cat. It lists only 17 properties that allow dogs of any size. Some of those properties have breed restrictions.

Valley Rental is one of the few local property managements that do not have size restrictions on dogs. They do, however, have breed restrictions and ban dogs such as Rottweilers and pit bulls.

At Valley Rental properties, leasing specialist Tara Willis said Valley Rental has made more units available to pets recently and have a total of nine pet-friendly properties.

Although some properties steer clear of entirely becoming homes for pets, Willis said it seems to have been beneficial for Valley Rental.

“Honestly, it’s not more of a headache. We do fill up quite a bit faster,” Willis said.

Valley Rental helped place at least 12 Galleria tenants. Although the fire victims were given the same specials as any other renter, they were allowed a delayed deposit payment, and the remaining October rent was waived.

Doggy Depot and two other businesses offer day care for dogs, which Black says can help when encouraging landlords into allowing a well-behaved pet.

Lindsay Stordahl of Run That Mutt offers professional dog-walking services in Fargo-Moorhead. Making sure a dog has regular fitness and training is something Stordahl says could help with properties feeling more confident in allowing pets.

“I think there is definitely not enough housing that allows larger dogs, and really, I think the problem is with the pet owners. If I was a landlord, I wouldn’t want people with a large dog,” Stordahl said. “I just think pet owners need to take more responsibility.”

Stordahl said current pet owners should make sure they are cleaning up after their pets. Owners should also make sure the pets can be left alone during the day or while the owners are at work.

“Basic obedience class could help. Most of the training classes offer the Canine Good Citizen test. It says your dog is a good citizen and is under control,” she said.

Heather Clyde, shelter manager for the F-M Humane Society, agrees that being a good pet owner can help.

She said the large number of calls regarding surrendering a pet due to moving can be frustrating in her line of work.

“If you know you’re moving in advance, do research, and don’t wait until the last minute,” Clyde said. “If you plan on moving, you need to remember your pet is part of the family, and you have to be able to find housing for your pet.”

Online

A complete listing of pet friendly properties broken down by acceptance of dogs and cats and restrictions can be found under the resources tab of the Humane Society’s website at www.f-mhumanesociety.org


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530