Getting an apartment in a college town has its benefits, but it also comes with some disadvantages for people with pets that are deemed aggressive.
Some apartments in the San Marcos area—including Sienna Pointe, The Palazzo, Springmarc, The University Club and Savannah Club—have breed restrictions that limit some dogs from serving as emotional support animals to students on their grounds. This puts students with dogs perceived as aggressive in difficult situations.
While browsing some of the San Marcos apartment websites, students come across common phrases like "Friendly Pet Community" or "We Love Pets," often followed by a "learn more" option, outlining heavy dog breed restrictions.
Savannah Club states on its website that it is "pet-friendly to friendly pets! Cats and dogs are welcome." The website also says the apartment allows "non-aggressive breeds," but there is no external link to guide potential residents to view the specific dog restrictions. The apartments assume that everybody knows what dogs are "aggressive," which is a false assumption.
Various lists across the Internet define their versions of the most common "aggressive" dog breeds: Akitas, Bulldogs, Cane Corso, Great Danes, Mastiff, Pit Bulls, Huskies and Wolf Hybrids. But each list is different depending on the area.
If restrictions are going to be implemented, they should be very clear and straightforward so that people who are apartment hunting can easily navigate their options and know what to expect. The Springmarc Apartment in San Marcos specifies and provides its list of restricted breeds restricted at Alliance communities. It is setting an example for competitors.
Further, as one can tell by the previous lists, the common misconception is that all sizable dogs are deemed aggressive. This stereotype is unfair considering each dog is different depending on its upbringing, not to mention the fact that small dogs can have similar aggression.
For instance, Cocker Spaniels are, on average, 36 to 41 centimeters long and can weigh up to 30 pounds. Despite their small size, they are prone to rage syndrome, a syndrome that can cause them to become aggressive toward strangers, people and other animals. The syndrome is as rare as aggressive dog attacks, yet Cocker Spaniels are not always on breed restriction lists.
It is not right for apartment complexes to pick and choose when to acknowledge some aggressive behavior while ignoring others. The habit creates confusion, especially since the restrictions are usually unclear across the board.
Aggressive tendencies are a result of dogs' training. It is unfair to assume that all breeds would be subject to that behavior.
Dog discrimination disregards the health benefits dogs can provide students. Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, increase fitness and manage depression. These therapeutic benefits are important things when considering the stressful nature of being a college student.
Animals that assist people with disabilities are usually not subject to certain provisions of breed restrictions, but the role of being an unprescribed emotional support animal is not given the same priority.
Palazzo and Springmarc allow official emotional support animals with the right documentation, representatives from the apartments said.
Making the transition from high school to college is monumental when considering that students leave the only place they have ever called home. Students might have pets at those homes that serve as emotional support when moving away from a place of comfort. Thus, apartments in college towns like San Marcos should consider and remove breed restrictions and consider other alternatives.
Total breed restrictions should be the last option when considering their health benefits for students. An alternative to breed restrictions is having pet interviews to assess a dog's aggression accurately.
The Presidium apartments in Austin do not have breed restrictions. Instead, they implemented a pet interview requirement. When asked why they use this process, a front desk representative said it ensures that all dogs and their owners have an equal opportunity to prove to the landlord that they have no intention of attacking any dogs or people.
All in all, dog restrictions should not be enforced in apartments in San Marcos or other college towns. A breed restriction list is discriminatory and based on a generalizations attached to big dogs. The hard restriction hinders some students from getting the emotional support needed while attending college and having their desired pet.
- Taylor Bradley is an English senior
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