RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Animal advocacy groups are championing legislation on the table in Congress that would prohibit the exclusion of animals based on their breed in public housing.
The Pets Belong with Families Act was introduced into the House of Representatives in November 2021 and is now receiving backing from Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS).
This bill would amend the United States Housing Act of 1937 by preventing public housing authorities from banning dogs based on their breed from residing in public housing units.
“It may sound like an odd thing to be happening but it is replete in government housing,” said Laura Donahue, director of legislation and advocacy at the Best Friends Animal Society.
Donahue notes that those living in public housing have limited options when it comes to choosing places to live and if a government-subsidized space bans certain dogs this could prove damaging to the family.
“The private housing market has choices. You can choose which apartment complex to live at because it has certain amenities that cater to pets,” said Donahue. “But if you have no means of providing a roof for your family and you’re living in public housing you have no choices.”
There are numerous dog breeds that are typically banned by public housing authorities based solely on their appearance. Donahue says that just about any larger-sized dog breed will end up being barred from living somewhere.
This situation creates an issue for many people in public housing who will either let their animals become strays or take them to shelters. Many sheltered animals end up being euthanized.
“There are a lot of animals dying in the RGV and it’s not because people don’t love or care about their pets,” said Donahue. “People need options and resources to keep their pets.”
This bill would not prevent public housing facilities from implementing policies that ban animals but instead prevent animals from being banned on a breed basis.
Animals that are deemed dangerous based on their behavior will be allowed to be banned.
The Pets Belong with Families Act is sponsored by Adam Schiff (CA-28) and is co-sponsored by 43 bipartisan legislatures. However, only one of these Congress members is from Texas, Collin Allred (TX-32).
Donahue and Best Friends Animal Society are urging the public to call their local representatives and tell them to support this bill.
This is the main piece of legislation that BFAS is advocating for at the moment but they are planning on supporting various movements once the Texas legislature reconvenes in January 2023.
One of BFAS’s main goals is to have the entire nation reach “no-kill” status by 2025. They are working toward this goal by implementing community cat programs, like the ones seen in Harlingen and Hidalgo County cities, and limiting intake at shelters.