Get Your Dogs In a Row

Published online: Oct 20, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Business Renee Spurgeon
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Between having 2.5 dogs of my own (my mother and I now share a dog) and running a pet friendly property management business, I can appreciate that pets are very much part of the family. 

I drive down Puppy Lane (the road beside Sportsman’s Warehouse), often picking up the little bundles of joy and reluctantly putting them back. If the other members of my household wouldn’t notice I’d have a dog farm, old ones and new ones and in-between ones. I am trusted with the Local News 8 celebrity dog and weather beacon, Radar Coats, as his official guardian when meteorologist Michael Coats and his wife, Carissa, are out of town. 

I love dogs and animals of all kinds, if I haven’t made that clear.

These furry creatures that are very much a part of our families, that make our lives and our homes a better place, are also a huge responsibility, which needs to be considered strongly when buying, adopting or acquiring one. 

With housing options at an all-time low and landlords that won’t take animals of any kind, many people are forced to make difficult decisions about placement of their furry family members. Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or homeowner in Idaho, should be step one in your pet finding process. 

For the property you occupy, home and renters insurance are available for personal liability and protection of your dwelling and/or belongings. April Hernandez, an insurance agent with our local Liberty Mutual office, offers both renters and homeowners insurance policies that cover certain liability incidents that are pet related. Furthermore, Liberty Mutual is one of the few insurance companies that do not ask breed-specific questions on a homeowner or renters’ application. 

While I won’t be mentioning any specific breeds (not looking for hate mail), there is a list of high-risk animals that might not be considered insurable by other insurance companies. April also offers affordable accidental and illness pet insurance to cover your dog or cat. 

In 2017, the State of Idaho, adopted emotional support animals in Senate Bill 1051. Prior to this change, service animals were specifically for the use by people with a disability not inclusive of mental or emotional support. 

In a nutshell, a landlord may ask for proof of disability, current vaccination certificates, and documentation from a licensed health care provider who is treating the individual for the disability. Additionally, the tenant named on the lease agreement is financially responsible for any damage caused by the animal. A landlord must offer “reasonable” accommodations for support animals, creating a bit of gray area and room for improvement within the current guideline.

While fraudulent certifications are difficult to prove, an individual may get into a bit of hot water should they choose to lie about the need for the animal. Not all online pet certification registries are legitimate. Your approach to legal service or emotional support animals must be complete, above board and documented. There are no shortcuts on these requirements. 

In Bonneville County, only two dogs are allowed in each residential unit without the dog owner having a commercial or non-commercial kennel license. The county requires that a person applying for a non-commercial kennel license must acquire 75% of the neighboring homes within 100 feet of the property, authorized signatures for approval of more than two dogs. While people aren’t turning in their neighbors on a regular basis, a pet owner should be aware of this regulation and be prepared to honor it should the pet police show up on your doorstep. 

Pet ownership is exceptionally rewarding with benefits from decreased blood pressure to increased happiness and socialization. Understanding what pet ownership looks like and considering time commitment, cost and housing should never be an afterthought when adding a member to your family. 

“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” 

-Andy Rooney 

Click here to read the October issue of Idaho Falls Magazine.


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