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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

When rights collide

       An article in the Sun on a tenant at a senior apartment building in Columbia wanting to have a rottweiler as a service dog got me thinking about the clash of individual rights.  As a landlord of rental properties in Columbia I have long since had a prohibition on pets in my rentals.  I have learned the hard way how many renters are not responsible pet owners when it comes to allowing a pet to damage a home.  Having replaced carpet too many times this is a rule that is a hard and fast rule for me now.
     The situation at Morningside Apartments presents a couple of questions for any landlord.   We are not allowed to prevent a service dog in rentals because of disability laws.  But a rottweiler or a pit bull?  Doesn't the safety of the community come into this discussion of rights?  Would you want one of these dogs in your neighborhood?  I know that we allow these dogs for homeowners (which I find crazy) but as a landlord I incur a legal liability for the actions of my tenants.
    I know that animal rights advocates, just like the gun rights folks, defend the individual right of people to own animals that have a history of being dangerous.   I just feel that the right of having a safe community too often is overlooked and devalued in these discussions.  We don't live out in the open ranges out West.  Your right to own something dangerous, like a semi automatic weapon or a dangerous animal, shouldn't negate my right for a safe community or to be a responsible landlord.

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