Moving with Pets

Audra Stillabower, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist
Pet Poison Helpline

I have moved many, many times over the last 20 years or so with my pets. I’ve moved from several states and from apartments and houses and have always been able to find housing that would take my pets. Sometimes this takes a lot of patience and calling to find the right landlord who will take multiple pets. I have always had two dogs, two cats and some guinea pigs. I’ve always found housing. Until recently, when I experienced a moving problem of my own.

I decided to sell my home and with the profit, move to my dream home in the country. Everything was planned. I found my dream house, and everything was supposed to work seamlessly. My house would sell, I would move straight to the new home with my pets and live happily ever after. But, remember what they say about the best laid plans? My new house had a problem, a title issue, and suddenly my house was selling quickly, and I had no home to move into and very little time to find a temporary residence. I was facing possible homelessness and I had 5 pets to think about. Thankfully it has worked out for us and we have a place to live until I can find my next dream home. Here’s some moving tips to help you and your pets.

1. Give yourself a lot of time to plan. If you are moving to a rental property be prepared that you’ll have to do a lot of calling and visiting. If the apartment complex will take pets, it is normally a 2-pet maximum. If you have more than two pets, you may be better off with a private landlord who may be more flexible when it comes to multiple pets.

2. Check for fees. There could be a pet deposit. This can either be refundable or non-refundable. For my apartment there is a $600 non-refundable pet deposit so it can be pricey and money you may not get back. There may also be an increase in rent per pet. Normally it is $20-$30 rent per pet but can vary depending on where you live.

3. When you are looking for a place to live, where should you look? There are a lot of websites for apartment and house rentals. Realtor.com has a rental option to search, Trulia, Apartments.com and more. If you are looking for a private landlord, you can check Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, Livelovely.com and other websites. Just be cautious with some of the websites because there can be scammers. You can also check newspaper ad listings. Get the word out to as many friends as possible. Having a network looking for you can help. I once found a rental through a co-worker who lived there and was moving. It was one of the best places I’ve lived.

4. Be up front about your pets. When I’ve made calls to private landlords, I will let them know up front how many pets I have and then I make my case to them. You can even prepare notes beforehand highlighting the good points about your pets, such as, all pets are housebroken, they are crated when I’m gone and don’t chew on things, my pets are older and are quiet, my dogs are friendly, they are on monthly flea preventative, etc. You can offer to let them meet your pets. You can also ask for letters of referral from your current or previous landlords or your veterinarian. Check for any breed or weight restrictions the landlord may have. You can offer to send photos of your pets to the landlord. I know looking can be frustrating but don’t be tempted to lie and sneak your pets in. If you are found out, you can be evicted, or the landlord may fine you.

5. At moving time, it’s best to make it as stress free as possible for your pets. Place them in their crates or cages in a quiet room for the furniture moving process. When traveling in your car to the location, you can place a cover over the crate or cage, so it feels dark and safe for your pet. Before introducing them to the new place, check for any hidden dangers. I’ve had calls before where someone moved to a new house only for their pet to find some hidden mouse poison and ingest it. Some places will also put antifreeze in the toilet to keep it from freezing during the winter months if the home has been vacant.

6. When moving in, place your pet’s bedding, food dishes and treats down and introduce your pets slowly to the residence. Keep to your normal pet’s routine with outside walks, feeding and bedtimes. Not all pets are the same with acclimation time. It may take a bit longer for some pets to get used to your new surroundings.

Moving can be stressful and moving with pets can take a little more time and effort to find the right landlord and property for you but it can be done. I’ve found that with time, patience and a lot of calling, you can find housing that will take multiple pets. Call on all your resources. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to help you look. Check multiple websites, newspapers and you can even ask your local humane society, veterinarians or animal shelter to see if they know of pet friendly housing in the area. Lastly, make your case to your prospective landlord. Know that landlords are concerned with possible complaints from other residents about your pets or with your pets destroying the residence. If you are up front and work with them to see what they need from you to alleviate some of their worry about your pets, it can help get you that new residence.

Additional information websites/references:
https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/living-with-your-dog/finding-pet-friendly-housing/
https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/moving-with-your-dog