While it can be difficult for renters with pets to find a home that welcomes dogs or cats, California has taken a step forward for tenants and their pets with the passage of SB1229. California governor Jerry Brown signed this bill which prohibits landlords from requiring renters to declaw or debark their pet as a condition of tenancy. Landlords are also prohibited from advertising the rental property in a way that discourages renters from applying because their pet is not declawed or debarked. California is the first state in the U.S. to enact this humane legislation.
Previously, some landlords included this requirement as a condition of occupancy in an effort to reduce noise and property damage. However, these surgical procedures are not medically necessary and are painful to the pet, and irreversible. Declawing of cats actually involves the amputation of the last bone of the cat’s toe, and is considered inhumane by most experts and is banned in many countries outside of the U.S. Debarking or devocalization is a surgical procedure wherein tissue from the dog’s vocal cords is removed to reduce the volume of the dog’s barking. Pet barking and scratching behaviors can be addressed through training and other measures such as claw clipping.
Landlords who violate the terms of the legislation face civil fines of up to $1,000.00 per pet, to be paid to the pet owner. Landlords still have other options to protect their property, such as a “pet deposit” which may be used to cover the cost of any property damage caused by the pet, and landlords may still enforce a “no pets” policy.