WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - In Palm Beach County, if you’re a renter, it’s almost guaranteed there will be some sort of pet restrictions specified in your lease.
The pet policies can vary from place to place. One of the more common rules is “no restricted breeds allowed.” Another example is: “Maximum of two pets allowed with a combined weight limit of 30 pounds.”
Then you might come across some places that simply won’t allow pets at all.
Those types of policies made it nearly impossible for Robert Lexa and his girlfriend to find a new place to rent last year.
“We looked at eight to 10 places and more than a handful of completely denied,” said Lexa.
The couple has three dogs.
“The handful that were comfortable, it would be 40 pounds and under," said Lexa.
Which was a little bit of a problem considering two of their dogs are about 100 pounds each.
“They expect most people to have Chihuahuas and little itty-bitty ten-pound dogs but not everybody fancies that.”
Some area animal shelters, like Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, say those restrictions, when it comes to weight and breed, have gotten stricter. And they say it's forcing some families to give up their pets or stop them from adopting in the first place.
“It's just really really hard today to have a large dog in Palm Beach County,” said Peggy Adams CEO Rich Anderson.
He says it's a major reason why their shelters are currently at capacity, filled mostly with large dogs. “These restrictions are definitely putting dogs at risk of being euthanized.”
In fact, Anderson says moving is the number one reason why families say they are forced to surrender their pets.
In the last year, the shelter says it’s had 124 dogs surrendered or returned for reasons related to moving (81) landlord (35) and HOA rules (8.)
“It’s just heartbreaking. These are family pets and just because they can’t find a rental property that will allow them to take their animal or keep their animal I just think that's wrong.”
However, those HOA rules aren't frivolous if you ask the Edge Condominiums' HOA president Joe Nasuti.
“Not every pet owner, pet parent, you want to call it, is really responsible,” said Nasuti.
He says it can be a case by case basis and there is a dangerous breed restriction as well.
“We’re very liberal; at the Edge we have two dog limit, we have 50 pounds per dog."
The policies, he says, are in place to protect renters who may have concerns about large dogs
and also to protect the properties from damage.
Ultimately, it could be up to the individual owner.
“Yeah, they could say no pets period,” said Nasuti.
Back at Peggy Adams, the problem is two-fold: They believe these types of restrictions are also stopping many families who might otherwise want to adopt a large dog.
"It’s really getting harder and harder for people to adopt great dogs just because it’s a little bit bigger or if it's a particular breed."
Something else that plays into the problem, according to Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, is that people adopt puppies and don’t consider the fact that they turn into bigger dogs.
The hope is to encourage adoptions, especially for large dogs right now.
That is why Peggy Adams along with Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control is currently holding a promotion through April 30 to waive adoption fees for all dogs over 40 pounds.