Canine Profiling, Discrimination, And You
When I adopted my female Chow Chow and Australian Cattle Dog mix puppy nearly 7 years ago, I had no idea that her breed or more specifically half of her breed would keep me from being allowed to rent a place to live. At the time that I adopted my puppy, I was living in a cabin in New Mexico on 5 acres that I owned and loved. But just as life takes many twists and turns I ended up having to sell my property and move in with my mother. I have lived with my mother now for 4 years and the time has come to move on. I decided to return to New Mexico and rent a place to live until I could secure employment and save for a new property. Well, that was the plan anyway.
As soon as I entered the town in New Mexico where I wanted to find a rental property, I drove by many places just to check the locations for safety and compatibility. We’ve all done it before. I had to rule out a few. I mean a junk yard literally 50 feet in front of the front door just isn’t acceptable for me. However, I did find some places that looked very nice, were in my price range, and advertised that pets are allowed. So I drove to the real estate agent’s office feeling good and optimistic that my hopes for returning to the area I love were only a few days from being realized. I walked up to the receptionist’s desk and told her that I was interested in a few rentals. I also added that I have a dog not thinking it would be any kind of issue since the advertisements for these places read that pets were allowed. The receptionist inquired about which rentals I was interested in, looked at her list, and then asked the final, fateful, and frustrating question, to use a few appropriate "F" words. "What kind of dog?"
"Oh" I said still clueless as to where this was going, "A Chow Cattle Dog mix."
With my answer she then quickly replied, "We can’t rent to owners of Chows. Our insurance won’t allow it. Not Pit Bulls, not Rottweilers," and she said more dog breeds but I was so shocked and furious as soon as I heard Chow that I really didn’t hear much else.
"Really?" I said sarcastically, "So you mean I just should have lied and said that she is a Collie because that’s what she looks like?" She just looked at me blankly. I turned and walked out. I knew this was a no win battle. I knew I couldn’t explain how gentle, sweet, and reasonably behaved my beautiful dog is. I knew that no matter how perfect my dog is there were to be no exceptions because someone, somewhere, sometime had a bad Chow that basically wrote the rules for the rest of us. And, it really isn’t that it was a bad Chow. It is that it was a bad Chow owner.
Dog breeds have been profiled and discriminated against for years. Most notably, the Pit Bull breed which has been so hated, feared, and unwanted that it is most often the first to be euthanized in shelters. But the real truth to this issue is that this behavior is the sole responsibility of the owners of these dog breeds. I do not deny that there are bad dogs but no dog is born bad. These dogs are bad because they have bad owners. Behavior in dogs as most dog owners know is individualized and therefore can not be stereotyped. That’s like saying that every person who has a tattoo is a menace to society because most people in prison have tattoos. It doesn’t make sense and it isn’t true.
I can understand obtaining a pet deposit to cover any damage to the property caused by the pet. But even if a dog occasionally chews a piece of carpet, urinates on the floor, or makes noise, why is it so much worse to landlords than a child that does the exact same thing? We all know how destructive and disruptive children can be. Why do we not see deposits for people who own children? Why do we not see newspaper ads that read, "No kids!" Additionally, there are some dangerous adults who I wouldn’t want to rent a backyard shed to. Yet, the responsible owner of a mildly mannered Chow mix dog can’t rent a place to live.
I also understand that the insurance the landlords have will not cover incidents of dog bites and that canine profiling has deemed certain large breeds as the most likely culprits of such bites. However, one of my most terrifying experiences with a dog was with a Chihuahua that was so protective it was willing to bite anything, anywhere, and at any time. So where’s the logic in this profiling? Yes, a big dog makes bigger bites but a bite is a bite. Any bite can be fatal whether it’s the size of the bite or the infection and/or disease it creates. By the way, children and cats bite too. Does this insurance cover Chihuahua, cat, and child bites?
Canine profiling and discrimination is simply wrong and needs to stop. Every dog has his own personality and behaves in the ways he has been taught. Bad owners make bad dogs. Therefore, dog owners and their dogs should be assessed individually but are not. Ultimately, you are responsible for how your dog behaves and is perceived which means we all are judged based on you and your dog. Please be a responsible dog owner so that this epidemic of unjust judgement can end.
As for me, I am forced to stay where I am and save money until I can afford a place to buy. Some people because of situations like mine have to give up their dogs to shelters which leads to the unnecessary death of so many loyal, loving pets. But I wouldn’t give my dog up for the nicest house in the nicest neighborhood in the nicest town in the world. Although it will take some time, I look forward to some day owning my own home again with a nice yard for my dog and me to play.