Column: A pet resume may help you and your pet secure a place to rent

German Shepherd

Sadie (A511760) has been showing off her impeccable manners in a foster home while waiting for adoption from Pasadena Humane. Many large dogs like Sadie are not allowed in rental properties due to size or breed.

From 2022 to 2023, the number of owner-surrendered dogs at Pasadena Humane increased by more than 30%. One of the leading reasons was housing instability. Housing issues were the cause of nearly a quarter of owner-surrendered dogs at our shelter.

The problem is complex, but on the most basic level, there is a severe lack of affordable pet-friendly housing.

Obviously, we live in an expensive and competitive housing market. The median home price in most of Pasadena Humane’s service areas is over $1 million, well out of reach for many.

Thus, the majority of Los Angeles County residents are renters. They are also pet lovers! It’s estimated that close to three million local renters own pets. Yet, most rentals don’t allow them.

Finding a pet-friendly rental can be challenging enough. Add to that the exorbitant non-refundable pet deposits or the hundreds of dollars in monthly pet rent that some larger complexes charge, and it can be nearly impossible for many loving pet owners to keep their furry friends.

To further complicate the matter, apartments may allow pets only with restrictions. Restrictions are often based on size, weight or breed.

Large dogs like shepherds, huskies, and bully breeds are typically the target of these non-inclusive policies. So, it’s no surprise we are seeing many of these larger breeds coming into shelters in our area.

“These pets come from loving homes where the owners feel they have exhausted every avenue to find affordable pet-friendly housing,” explains Marissa Sunny, our Animal Resource Center manager.

“Not only do restrictive rental policies contribute to an abundance of animals in the shelter,” she adds, “but it also means that there are plenty of people who would love to adopt a pet but are unable to because they are not allowed to have a pet in their current housing.”

While it can be hard to find an affordable rental that welcomes your whole family — four-legged companions included — Marissa has some tips:

Utilize the filters on popular rental search websites. This is the quickest and easiest way to see pet-friendly properties. But don’t stop there!

Reach out to landlords and property managers directly, especially if the listing doesn’t mention pets one way or the other. Putting a face to a name for you and your pet can help your chances of securing the perfect place.

Make your pet a resume. Include things that would appeal to a landlord, like your pet being spayed/neutered, up to date on vaccines, housebroken, and any training classes completed. Adding a letter of recommendation from your previous landlord or veterinarian may also help strengthen your case.

Relief may be in sight for pet-owning renters in California. Assembly Bill 2216 would require landlords to have a reasonable justification for not allowing a pet in a rental unit.

The legislation would not allow a landlord to charge separate or additional rent for the ownership of a common household pet. And, landlords would be prohibited from imposing unreasonable restrictions on the breed, size or number of pets.

If passed, the new law could be beneficial for pet owners and landlords alike. Research shows that pet owners stay longer. And, with a larger pool of renters, vacancies are easier to fill.

Given the current challenges for renters, Pasadena Humane is hosting a “Living with Large Dogs” event at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. The event will include a workshop on writing a resume for your pet and cover other essential topics for renters, such as housing rights and how to navigate rental agreements with your pet in mind.

“Living with Large Dogs” is a free event, but pre-registration is required. Sign up here:


Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on May 3, 2024.