ST. GEORGE — For pet owners in Southern Utah, finding a place to rent that allows animals can be a bit of a cat and mouse game. A survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association reveals 67% of U.S. households have a pet, making rental home availabilities a mammoth size problem for some people.
Dog owner Joe Amadon said finding a suitable place to rent in Washington County was challenging.
“A lot of landlords, understandably, are worried about their property being damaged by dogs and cats,” Amadon said, “especially because they don’t know how good of a pet owner a potential renter is.”
Property management companies indicate pet friendly accommodations fluctuate in the St. George area. Dale Desmond of Red Rock Property Management said about 10% of their clients require rentals that allow pets. Sometimes they have five or six properties available; sometimes they don’t have any. Desmond notes there are exceptions for non-pet rentals for people with emotional support animals.
“Even if a property owner says no animals, you still have to allow them to bring in an emotional support animal,” said Desmond.
The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prevents landlords from discriminating against people with disabilities, requiring them to make reasonable accommodations for service and companion animals. The law doesn’t state which animals qualify as emotional support animals, although most are usually dogs or cats. Landlords may require tenants to provide a letter from a doctor or therapist stating the nature of the disability and why a service or companion animal is needed.
In addition to long term rentals, Southern Utah also offers some vacation properties, which pet owners enjoy using. Desmond said his company has a small number of vacation rentals which allow pets, but they require an extra fee and tend to get booked quickly. Desmond said his company hasn’t experienced many problems when it comes to pets and vacation homes because many of these animals are well attended.
“They’re kept in a kennel as they travel and are pampered pretty well,” Desmond said.
Due to the amount of people who have pets, Desmond said he expects pet friendly offerings will continue to increase in the future.
City View Apartments is one of the newer properties in Washington County that welcomes pets. City View Property Manager Brandon Nelson said his company is responding to the need for such housing.
“It’s a trend as far as the housing industry in general,” Nelson said.
Right now between 10-15% of the residents at City View Apartments have pets. Nelson said one of the more popular features is an on-site pet washing and drying station. Nelson said one tenant was so enamored with this feature, he decided to add a washing and drying station to the new home he was building.
“A secondary benefit of our amenities is the location,” Nelson said. “We’re close to parks that allow animals to run and get exercise.”
While some properties enjoy the benefits of nearby parks and open spaces, other renters may have to get creative when it comes to developing a safe, healthy environment for their furry friends.
Cats typically don’t require a lot of space, although they like to climb and explore. This can be easily accomplished with a cat tree which doesn’t take up a lot of room. For small apartments and homes, cat can still get plenty of exercise through interactive play with their owners, or with battery operated toys. The tricky thing with cats in small homes is finding separate places for the litter box and the cat food.
Jennifer Coffelt, a volunteer at RSQ DOGS+, said the goal is to prevent cross contamination.
“You don’t want any of the debris from the litter box going into the cat food or the water,” Coffelt said. “Obviously two separate rooms would be ideal, but if they are in the same room you want to keep them on opposite ends.”
Whether renting a big house or a tiny apartment, Coffelt advises cleaning the litter box every day and changing out the litter on a regular basis.
Dogs have different space requirements but can still thrive even in a small home without a yard. Coffelt said the needs of each dog are based on their breed and individual activity level.
“A yard is nice to have, but it’s not the most important part of your dog’s activity,” Coffelt said. “What’s important is how much activity and exercise you are able to give your dog, whether that’s in the yard or outside of the yard.”
Some of the apartment complexes in Southern Utah that allow pets offer on-site dog parks. Coffett said these are wonderful but added that working breeds still need an extra level of exercise.
“Sometimes for those dogs, the size of the yard doesn’t make any difference,” Coffelt said. “They still need to go on hikes and runs.”
When a dog is first brought into a home, Coffelt recommends crate training. Once the dog has become familiar and comfortable with its surroundings, it will still need a place to use for quiet time, and a separate area to socialize with its owners.
Prospective renters should expect to pay a deposit fee as well as a monthly fee if renting a property where pets are permitted. Landlords can decide how many pets they will allow. Some cities in Southern Utah have ordinances limiting the number of dogs either renters or owners may have. Many only allow two dogs per household if they are over four months of age.
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