Pet proposal put on hold

The jury is still out on whether San Francisco — named after the patron saint of animals — will make it a little easier for pets and their owners to find homes.

After two hours of sometimes-heated discussion, the Commission for Animal Control and Welfare tabled a resolution Thursday that would have suggested The City prohibit housing discrimination against responsible pet owners.

The matter will be taken up again at a commission meeting in January. Any resolution would be nonbinding, but it could pave the way for a San Francisco supervisor to push forward with proposed legislation. The commission’s recent resolution to ban cat declawing in The City was picked up by the Board of Supervisors and enacted into law last week.

After hearing testimony from tenant groups encouraging the resolution and landlord groups worried about its implication on their properties, Commissioner Philip Gerrie withdrew the resolution until the next meeting. He said he would come back with a resolution that laid out more specifics about what the rights of landlords and tenants would be.

The commission has raised a number of proposals, including establishing a mandatory percentage of apartment units for pet owners, as a way to increase the number of city residents available to adopt animals from shelters. Some reports indicate that as many as 80 percent of San Francisco residents are renters, and only half of rental properties allow pets. Meanwhile, about 7,100 dogs and cats were taken in by public shelters in 2008 and 87 percent were adopted, one of the highest rates in the country.

“At this point, we’re still trying to figure out exactly what policy to move forward with,” commission Chairwoman Sally Stephens said. “But the motivation is to get more people available to foster and adopt rescued animals.”

As expected, reaction to the proposal has been divided between apartment and tenant groups.

Ted Gullickson, director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, said the proposal would give renters the same basic rights already enjoyed by those living in federal housing properties, where pets are allowed.

Janan New, president of the San Francisco Apartment Association, countered that a mandatory pet policy would be an onerous and expensive liability for landlords, and that it would adversely affect other tenants with allergies or fears of animals.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com
kworth@sfexaminer.com

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