Owning a pet makes it even harder to find housing in Summit County

Domino, an eight-month-old mixed breed and one of 16 dogs currently housed at Summit County Animal Shelter, stands inside his kennel Friday, April 8 in Frisco. The shelter receives animals for reasons including owners struggling to find housing in Summit County, racial discrimination and learned behavior issues.
Jason Connolly/For the Daily News Summit

Colorado is known to be a pet-friendly state.according to a recent Safewise study. But some Summit County residents have different views on what it’s like to own a pet within the community, especially when it comes to finding housing that allows them to stay with them. their furry family members.

Alex Lithwin moved to Summit County when he was 18 and lived here and in Eagle County for about 15 years. Having recently moved to Massachusetts to be with his family, Lithwin has spent most of his time in the area bouncing from rental to rental, as many renters seem to do.

When he adopted his dog, a one-year-old pit bull named Hennessy, he had a pet-friendly home. But when the owner decided to turn the unit into a short-term rental, Lithwin soon realized that finding a new home that would allow Hennessy was going to be very different.

Eventually, Lithwin and his then-girlfriend decided to invest around $15,000 so they could live off a van to retain ownership of Hennessy and have a place to rest. But finding a place to park the van also posed problems because there aren’t many places in the county that allow vehicles to camp overnight.

For about 15 years, Alex Lithwin lived in Summit County bouncing around from various rental units. The search for accommodation became much more difficult when he decided to take in Hennessy, an 8-year-old pit bull mix. Eventually, Lithwin said he decided to live in a van when finding housing that allowed Hennessy became too difficult.
Alex Lithwin/Courtesy Photo

Blue River resident Kaleb Anderson has similar experiences. As a county resident for eight years, Anderson went from rental to rental. Last month, Anderson had to find another place to live because his landlord planned to sell the three-bedroom house he was renting with a few other tenants.

With a 5-year-old Australian Shepherd named Kima, finding another place to move was nearly impossible, he said. Anderson was lucky in securing a month-long rental just in time, but he’s still on the hunt for something permanent.

Both Lithwin and Anderson said they would never consider rehoming their animals and would rather sacrifice small luxuries to make it work with an owner. Anderson said he’d rather be couch surfing and having friends check on Kima if that’s what it takes to keep the dog in his care.

For some, it is unthinkable to get rid of your pet to find accommodation. At least that’s how Mike Tarrant and Elena Docef feel. The couple are currently looking for a rental to move in together, but in the course of their search they both had to give up some level of comfort to make it work with the few landlords who allow pets. Tarrant has a 2-year-old Australian Cattle Dog named Yuki, and Docef has an 11-year-old Golden Shepherd Mix named Roscoe.

Docef moved to Virginia County in June when she was accepted into Colorado Mountain College’s nursing program. Securing accommodation on the other side of the country was no easy task, especially since she planned to bring Roscoe with her.

Although she eventually found a pet-friendly home, she had to abide by other strict rules set by the landlords. Docef was only allowed to have one guest in her house per month and was not allowed to adjust the thermostat, even when it was set at 54 degrees.

“I feel like I had to give up some freedoms to be able to live with my dog,” Docef said.

Like Docef, Tarrant said he feels he is being forced into “uncomfortable” living conditions because there are so few owners willing to accept pets. He has lived in the county for about four years and currently has 60 days to find another place to live with Yuki.

“I had to suddenly move in with someone who had a lot of red flags when I first met them, but he was the only person who allowed pets, and unfortunately I ended up stuck with a bad human being,” Tarrant said. “It wasn’t a situation I would have put myself in if my restrictions hadn’t been what they were.”

The four residents said they wouldn’t consider rehoming their animals because of housing, but according to Meg Leroux, operations manager at Summit County Animal Shelter, housing is one of the reasons people decide to move. abandon their animals.

“It’s quite common, people move into the area and can’t find housing,” Leroux said of the pet abandonments. “About half of our staff here at the shelter live in surrounding counties, so we can afford to own or rent homes that are pet-friendly. When people have trouble finding accommodation that allows pets, we always recommend Park County, Grand County, Clear Creek County, and Lake County.

Fortunately, housing remains one of the least popular reasons people abandon their pets. Lesley Hall, director of the shelter, said in an email that last year there were 98 owner abandonments – when a person abandons their pet at the shelter – and 29 returned adoptions, that is- ie when a person who has adopted a pet from the shelter returns this.

Of these two combined, only nine animals were taken to the shelter due to housing. The most common reasons for abandoning a pet are having too many animals, the owner not being able to care for them or not having the time and allergies.

Leroux noted that most of those people who give up their pets are usually new to the area and less prepared for the county’s lack of affordable housing. In most cases, she said locals will do what they have to to take care of their pets.

“Once people are established, they work really hard to maintain their pet-friendly rental or find a new one,” Leroux said.

Summit County Animal Shelter Supervisor Daniel Ettinger pets Domino, an 8-month-old mixed-breed, Friday, April 8, in Frisco. Ettinger says the shelter occasionally receives animals because owners struggle to find housing in Summit County, a situation he says led him and his dog to find housing in a county. next to.
Jason Connolly/For the Daily News Summit

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