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Pet-Friendly for Whom? An Analysis of Pet Fees in Texas Rental Housing

By J. W. Applebaum, K. Horecka, L. Loney, T. M. Graham

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Previous studies have underscored the difficulty low-income pet owners often face when attempting to secure affordable rental housing. Further exacerbating this housing disparity are fees charged on top of normal monthly rent to pet owners in "pet-friendly" rental housing. In this study, we aggregated rental housing listings from the twenty most populous cities in Texas, USA from a popular online rental database. We paired the rental listings with census tract information from the American Community Survey in order to investigate economic and racial/ethnic patterns in the spatial distribution of the properties. We find that less expensive pet-friendly listings were more likely to have pet fees charged on top of rent than rental units that were more expensive. Additionally, when pet fee burden was defined as a function of average income by census tract, low-income communities and communities of color were more likely than higher income and predominantly White communities to pay disproportionately higher fees to keep pets in their homes. We also find patterns of spatial inequalities related to pet fee burden by a metric of income inequality by city. The burden of pet rental fees may contribute to both housing insecurity and companion animal relinquishment. We discuss these findings as they relate to inequalities in housing, with particular attention to marginalized and disadvantaged people with pets. We conclude with recommendations for policy and practice.

Publication Title Front Vet Sci
Volume 8
Pages 767149
ISBN/ISSN 2297-1769 (Print)2297-1769
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2021.767149
Author Address Department of Sociology and Criminology and Law, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States.Department of Research, Austin Pets Alive!, Austin, TX, United States.Humane Society of the United States, Austin, TX, United States.Independent Researcher, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Companion
  3. Housing
  4. Human-animal interactions
  5. Interests
  6. open access
  7. Pet ownership
  8. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access