Jun 5, 2024 - News

Pet parents could benefit from these political pushes in the DMV

Illustration of a heart made out of dog treats.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Some pet-related moves in local politics (or should we say … paw-litics) could make life easier for DMV owners.

Why it matters: D.C. really, really loves its animals.

Driving the news: Last month, D.C. Council member Robert White introduced the "Pets in Housing Act" that would cap security deposits and monthly fees for people renting with pets, as well as eliminate breed regulations.

  • And Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson plans to present to propose an ordinance upping the number of dogs city residents are allowed to own, he tells Axios.

State of play: White's bill, created with George Washington University's Law School Animal Welfare Project and the Humane Rescue Alliance, aims to limit the ways pets can pose a barrier to housing in D.C.'s already competitive rental market.

  • It would cap pet security deposits at $300 and pet rent at $25 a month.
  • Plus: Low-income residents in subsidized housing wouldn't have to pay nonrefundable pet fees, and the Department of Human Services must ensure at least one shelter is available to people experiencing homelessness with a pet.

The goal: Ensuring that fewer people would have to part with their pets over housing.

In Alexandria, city residents can currently only have three dogs and four cats. Under Wilson's forthcoming ordinance, the dog number would likely be upped to either four or five, Wilson tells Axios. (No feline changes — sorry, cat people.)

  • This comes after locals have complained to Wilson about the dog limits, he said in a recent city council meeting.

The other side: Local landlords worry they wouldn't be properly reimbursed for pet-caused property damage under the caps on pet rent and deposits suggested in White's bill, according to a blog post from the D.C. Landlord Association.

  • "Without sufficient financial protection, landlords may face undue financial burdens, which could impact the overall quality and availability of rental housing," reads the post.
  • The group instead suggests introducing "adequate" fee caps, requirements that all animal-owning tenants have pet insurance, clear guidelines for dealing with pet damages, and tax breaks to landlords with pet-friendly housing.

And in a poll conducted by ALXnow, a majority of respondents said only three dogs should be allowed to live in Alexandria households — the current max.

More paw-litics: Two new pieces of legislation before Congress would benefit pups directly — The Working Dog Health and Welfare Act aims to ensure proper treatment of federal agency dogs like search-and-rescue or TSA pups, and the PETSAFE Act would create a pilot program for mobile pet shelters for use during natural disasters.

What's next: A hearing announcement for the Pets in Housing Act is expected soon, with a goal of passing the bill by the end of this year, per a spokesperson for White.

  • And Alexandria's new ordinance will likely go before the city council later this month, Wilson tells Axios.
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