Renters With Pets Hail 'Fluffy's Law'

Renters favor Bill 218 to allow pets in multi-unit buildings in ManitobaOur nation's foreclosure crisis has left an estimated 1 million dogs and cats abandoned, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many pets lose their homes and human families when owners can't find an apartment that accepts pets.

Enter, "Fluffy's Law."

Our neighbors to the north in Manitoba, Canada are looking at removing a landlord's ability to prohibit pets. More than 200 demonstrators gathered Saturday to support a bill by the province's Liberal leader, Jon Gerrard, that would make it illegal for owners of multi-unit buildings to prohibit residents from having pets.

It would also ensure that prospective tenants aren't turned away because they already have pets.

As it's written the proposed law would allow landlords to set rules for pet behavior, though.

The bill is modeled on one that already exists in Ontario, and it could pass as early as mid-June.

Opponents call the proposal "irrelevant" and liken it to giving pet-owners a protected status similar to minorities and gay people. They call Gerrard's Bill 218 a "misguided attempt by a fringe party attempting to win votes on a fringe issue." They claim the bill ignores the rights of landlords to prevent their property from being destroyed by pets. Moreover, they claim it doesn't consider the rights of renters with animal allergies, either.

Sure, but there are tangible benefits to having a pet.

Assemblyman Gerrard, who's also a physician, told the Winnipeg Sun: "Pets are almost like an anti-depressant. Pet owners don't require as many doctor visits and don't have as many ailments."

Might increased pet ownership also have an economic side benefit of reducing escalating health care costs? That could be beneficial on both sides of the border if adopted into law.

Supporters of "Fluffy's Law" have a Facebook page so you can follow what happens next. (While you're there, join the Rented Spaces Facebook page, too.)

Could this law spread to other areas? Let's hope so. It would sure make life easier for responsible pet owners looking for an apartment. A California assemblyman already has sponsored a law aimed at landlords who require tenants' to declaw and de-bark pets.

Animal activists applaud the proposed Canadian bill as a step toward reducing the numbers of pets sent to shelters and destroyed. That's why many people consider adopting from an animal shelter as the first and best choice. The Winnipeg Humane Society says 1,000 pets are given to the society annually due to no-pet policies.

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