Pet-friendly housing for big dogs

Big dogs stay at shelters longer and are at risk of losing their lives because many housing options restrict dogs based on their breed, size, and/or weight.

Sadly, the No. 1 reason people surrender big dogs (pups weighing more than 50 pounds) to shelters is because of housing restrictions. 

Every day across the United States, families with big dogs face housing challenges because their rental or insurance companies won’t allow certain dogs due to their size or breed. 

Restrictive laws against big dogs

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) refers to laws that ban or restrict certain types of dogs based simply on their appearance or breed.

These outdated laws, which assume that a dog is dangerous simply because of his or her appearance, unreasonably limit responsible people’s right to own any breed of dog they choose. 

BSL also forces caring pet owners to give up their innocent, well-behaved pets because of breed-specific policies in rental agreements, public housing, homeowners associations, and insurance companies. 

As a result of BSL and its limits on housing options, fewer people adopt big dogs, which means big dogs stay longer in shelters where they are more at risk of losing their lives. 

Plus, these restrictions force many responsible people to surrender their innocent dogs to shelters, separating families from their beloved pets. 

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Ending breed restrictions in communities like yours

Breed-specific restrictions don’t make communities safer, reduce risk, or protect people or pets.

That’s why, with your help, Best Friends is dedicated to eliminating BSL once and for all. We’re working to put policies in place that keep big dogs with their families, protect the rights of people who have big dogs, end breed restrictions by the insurance industry, and strengthen tenant rights.

Advocate for pet-friendly housing

Best Friends is working around the country to protect the rights of pets and their people so that big dogs can stay with their loving families.

Help end breed-restrictive insurance policies

Restrictions in homeowners and rental insurance policies contribute to more big dogs ending up in shelters. When people are denied coverage or dropped by their insurance company because of their dog’s breed, size, or appearance, responsible dog owners are often forced to give up their family dog. 

Best Friends is urging state insurance commissioners to protect consumers and to focus on dogs’ behavior, rather than size or breed. You can help by signing a petition targeting your state’s insurance commission. 

Since 2022, we have lobbied for and helped pass legislation in Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico, and Colorado to help keep pets with their families by removing breed restrictions in homeowners insurance policies.

Challenge breed restrictions in government-subsidized housing

Public housing authorities often restrict dogs based on breed, appearance, and/or size — with some restrictions against dogs as light as 10 pounds. These arbitrary restrictions can force responsible dog owners to choose between their beloved pets and stable housing. 

Breed- and size-specific pet restrictions use government funds to force low-income families either to surrender their pets to animal shelters (at a cost to taxpayers) or to choose potentially unsafe and unstable housing. 

The most vulnerable families should have the most protections, which is why Best Friends works to repeal breed, size, and weight restrictions in government-funded housing. We lobbied for and helped pass legislation in Texas and Florida to end arbitrary pet restrictions in public housing authorities.

Make sure you know your rights as a tenant. Need help? Legal assistance is available.

Support the rights of renters and HOA residents

While landlords (or owner-operators) often believe pet-friendly housing is abundant, many renters say pet-inclusive housing is hard to find. 

Truly pet-inclusive housing doesn’t have breed, weight, or size restrictions; doesn’t require pet rent every month; and doesn’t require large nonrefundable pet fees. 

Studies show that pet-inclusive housing benefits owners and operators, residents, and communities alike by increasing housing options for the two-thirds of U.S. families with pets. 

Renters insurance policies that restrict pets based on their size or breed limit people’s options for living arrangements and for selecting a dog from a shelter. Because of this, Best Friends is urging state insurance commissioners to protect consumers and focus on their dogs’ behaviors rather than their breed or size. 

You can help by signing a petition targeting your state’s insurance commissioner.

Two people sitting on the steps in front of a home with their three big dogs

Finding pet-friendly housing

Check out our pet-friendly housing guide.

Affordable housing is especially difficult to find when your family includes a large dog. 

Best Friends Animal Society and Michelson Found Animals are working together to increase pet-inclusive housing through research, policy, and legislative change — and by providing tools, resources, and education for people with dogs and rental owner/operators. 

Together, we aim to empower renters to educate owner/operators about why allowing all good dogs, regardless of their size or breed, is good for the owner/operators, the renters, and animal shelters.

We worked together to create these resources for tenants, including talking points supported by data about why pet-inclusive policies are good for owner/operators, a downloadable pet resume, and doggy date trading cards

Michelson Found Animals’ Pet-Inclusive Housing Report found that 33% of residents with pets would adopt another pet if restrictions on their rental housing were lifted. With a common-sense easing of restrictions over time, up to 8.2 million more animals could find homes in pet-inclusive rental housing. This would save the lives of these animals as well as improve the lives of their families.

Silhouettes of three big dogs playing

We want to hear your story

If you’ve struggled to find housing, have been denied housing or insurance, or have been forced to move or surrender your beloved big dog because of restrictive pet policies, we want to hear your story.

The elected officials with whom we work to change laws and policies are unaware of the depth of this problem and how harmful these policies are to their constituents. 

Being able to share real-life stories like yours with decision-makers is the most persuasive tool we have to create positive change for big dogs and the families who love them.

You can be an advocate for big dogs

Get started by staying informed about how to help big dogs.