On any given night, 39,396 individuals experiencing homelessness remain unsheltered in Los Angeles County. About 10 percent of people who lack housing have pets who serve as trusted companions and family members. However, many supportive and permanent housing options lack the infrastructure to care for pets, or they prohibit cats and dogs outright, leading many with the difficult choice between abandoning a beloved pet or experiencing homelessness. In response, today the Board of Supervisors approved a motion, authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, that directs County Departments to draft an ordinance requiring all County-funded housing to allow residents to have pets.
“Studies show that individuals with pets experience fewer symptoms of depression and loneliness. Pets provide emotional stability and protection for those who lack that type of support. For many, a pet may be their only sense of family. If we want to combat homelessness, the human-animal bond is an important relationship we cannot afford to ignore,” said Supervisor Solis. “A pet may be the only source of comfort for senior citizens and people with disabilities. In addition, many victims of domestic violence hesitate to apply for supportive or permanent housing after they realize they have to abandon a trusted pet. No one should have to sever a bond with a pet in order to find housing.”
“I’m pleased to co-author this motion with Supervisor Solis to explore housing options for people with pets,” said Supervisor Barger.
The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that 10 percent of individuals experiencing homelessness have pets; other studies suggest the number is even higher. Many private landlords and temporary housing forbid people from having animals.
“Devoted pet owners who are willing and able to care for their pet should not be forced to make the impossible decision between giving up their beloved pet or maintaining a place to live,” said Susan Riggs, senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA, Western region. “We are grateful to Supervisors Solis and Barger for introducing the motion and the Board of Supervisors moving this policy forward to open up more pet-friendly housing options in the County and providing much needed relief to lower-income pet owners.”
Public animal shelters and animal welfare organizations have reported up to 20 percent of pet owners abandon their animals because they cannot find rental housing that allows pets. One national study revealed that pet owners who rent were often forced to find other housing options for their animals because they could not keep them in their rental unit. In LA County, housing was a reason for roughly 24 percent of dog surrenders and 20 percent of cat surrenders between 2016 and 2018. About 29 percent of these pets will be euthanized.
Today’s motion directs the Chief Executive Office’s Homeless Initiative, the Department of Animal Care and Control, and the Community Development Commission to return to the Board in 90 days with a draft ordinance that would require all County-funded housing to allow residents to have pets.
Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Communications Deputy, firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-359-0795