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Tag: landlords

Facing eviction, woman strangles pit bull; says she didn’t want anyone else to have it

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Faced with eviction unless she got rid of her pit bull, a Florida woman got rid of her pit bull — by strangling her and burying her in her mother’s yard, authorities say.

Shelly Bezanson, 28, of Osprey,  told police she choked the dog to death with her own leash because she didn’t want anyone else to have her, the Herald-Tribune in Sarasota reports.

“The vet would not put Diamond down, so I did,” Bezanson said, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

After learning she faced eviction, Bezanson  repeatedly asked a veterinarian to euthanize the otherwise healthy 7-year-old dog. When the vet repeatedly refused, suggesting rescue groups that would take the dog in and find her a new home, Bezanson took matters into her own hands.

bezansonmugOn Nov. 14, Bezanson strangled Diamond using the dog’s chain leash, turning up the music in her apartment so her neighbors would not hear her, officers said.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Wendy Rose called the incident a “horrible story — particularly when you have so many willing rescue groups to help take the dog and give it a forever home.”

Bezanson told officers she did not want anyone else to have the dog. 

“I promised Diamond we would be together until the end,” deputies quoted Bezanson as saying. “And this was the end.”

In later interviews, she told deputies that she regretted what she did and wished she would have found someone else to take care of the dog.

Bezanson also owned a kitten and a domesticated rat when she was arrested, and she told officers she planned to adopt another dog.

Charged with animal cruelty, she is being held at the Sarasota County Jail on $25,000 bond.

Judging from the comments the article is generating, she might want to stay there.

(Photos: Mug shot of Bezanson, and undated photo of Bezanson with Diamond, provided by Sarasota County Sheriff’s office)

Kayla can stay, landlord must pay

The landlords of a Boston apartment building have been ordered to pay $25,000 to a tenant with HIV/AIDS for trying to force the man to get rid of his dog.

The ruling,  issued by the  Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, pertained to a mutt named Kayla, who — though not a service dog or a certified therapy dog — provided emotional support to her owner.

The complaint was brought against the owners of the Brighton Gardens building by Richard M. Blake, who was diagnosed with HIV infection more than two decades ago, according to the Boston Globe.

After his diagnosis, Blake isolated himself and rarely left the house.

“He was depressed, basically lounging around the apartment all day long, and his weight rose and blood pressure got out of control,’’ said Denise McWilliams, general counsel for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.

Blake’s doctor recommended a dog to help lift Blake’s mood and improve his mental and physical health.

“She’s just given me sort of a routine in my life,’’ Blake said of the boxer mix he got in 2008. “She’s given me a lot of joy. Animals just seem to make it hard for you to be in a bad mood … Ever since I have had her, the walks and the tons of exercise I do with her have helped.’’

Blake said his landlord gave him permission to get the dog, but two months later tenants were notified that a no-pet policy in their leases would be enforced.

After unsuccessful attempts to get the landlords to make an exception, Blake filed a complaint with the state commission in December, 2008.

In its ruling, the commission said that evidence “supports a finding that requiring Complainant to give up his dog would seriously jeopardize his emotional and physical well-being.’’

Sunny goes down — because he got too big

Sunny’s first offense was growing.

Being a Rottweiller-mastiff mix, he — as  you’d expect — quickly surpassed the 100-pound mark, well over the weight limit imposed at the Florida apartment complex where his owner, Denise Wilkinson, lived.

She started searching for a new home for him, but, unable to find one by the landlord’s deadline, dropped him off at Pinellas County Animal Services, with plans to pick him back up when she found one.

On its website, the county said dogs are kept seven days there. In person, they told her 48 hours. In reality, they euthanized him before a day had passed.

When Wilkinson, a day after dropping him off, went to pick up her dog, she found out Sunny had been euthanized — within hours of being dropped off.

“He wasn’t sick; he wasn’t old. He still had a long life ahead of him,” Wilkinson told Tampa Bay Online.

Senior Animal Control Officer John Hohenstern said Sunny was aggressive and caused concerns about the safety of shelter workers. “It was determined that because of the aggression in the dog it was not an adoption candidate,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything with the dog.”

Hohenstern  said that, despite the wording on the website, Wilkinson had initialed a paper stating she understood that the surrender was is unconditional: “Pinellas County Animal Services makes no promise, actual or implied, regarding holding time, treatment, adoption or disposition of this animal.” Hohenstern said the document initialed by Wilkinson superseded the website.

The county, Tampa Bay Online reports, has since changed the language on the website.

Hohenstern said with more animals being surrendered, possibly because of the economy, the animal control office encourages people to consider other options before dropping a dog there. “We try to … let them know this is kind of their last resort,” Hohenstern said. “They don’t want to do this.”

Hero pit bull turned away by landlords

Diamond is a documented hero — credited with saving the lives of her California family and named one of the nation’s top ten “Valor Dogs” — but landlords only see her as trouble.

Her owner says that despite being named one of the nation’s top ten “Valor Dogs” by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), dozens of landlords are turning away “Diamond” because she’s a pit bull, WBIR-TV reports.

Darryl Steen, Diamond’s owner, says she woke him up when his apartment caught fire last October. He was able to get one of his daughters to safety by dropping her out of a window, but couldn’t reach the second child.

When firefighters finally got to her, Diamond was laying on top of the girl in an effort to protect her from the flames.

The dog suffered severe burns, but has recovered.

Steen says that several landlords have told them that pets are welcome, only to renege when they learn that Diamond is a pit bull.

Adventures in househunting, Craigslist style

Where I’d like to live and what I can afford are two different realms, two very different realms – a fact I bring up not because I’m the first person to experience that phenomenon, but because it is one of the reasons Ace and I are having difficulty settling down, even temporarily.

All I want is a small cabin or cottage — they being much more romantic than something called a house – away from the hubbub, with heat and electricity, perhaps on the water, with a view of said water, and maybe a porch, possibly a fireplace, and washer and dryer, either near a park or with a big backyard that Ace can romp in, for, say $700 a month.

I’m not set on that. I’d also settle for a huge artist’s loft, utilities included, under $800 a month, where I could spread out and tape notes to the walls and write brilliantly when I’m not at the neighboring dog park, or enjoying the downtown skyline of (insert city here) from my deck, or taking part in the thriving social scene and cultural activities within easy walking distance.

Am I asking too much?

Of course I am.

For those of you who haven’t been following the recent adventures of me and my dog Ace,  allow me to summarize. Eight months ago, we hit the road to see some America — freeloading off friends and strangers, staying at cheap motels, spending a week on a boat, a month in a camper, a few nights in the car and in my tent. Part of the reason was to find ourselves, and find home. Part of it was to see if we could be vagabonds, roaming the country for the same amount we’d previously spent on rent and utilities at our rowhouse in Baltimore.

The trip gave me a deeper appreciation of my dog and my country; a better understanding of its faults (the country’s, Ace has none); and it confirmed my suspicion that most of the great places to live, scenic-beauty wise, have been co-opted by the rich. It also instilled in me — if it wasn’t already there — a thriftiness that, while mandated by my economic situation, borders on obsession.

I just can’t stand spending money on overpriced things, like gas, fancy restaurants, hotels, electricity and rent.

Arriving back in Baltimore, still unsure where home was, we were lucky enough to land in an empty house near the Inner Harbor that’s awaiting its new tenants — three soldiers returning from Afghanistan, expected to be back at end of February. It more than meets my needs and my budget, as it’s a friend’s house that’s costing me nothing. I, essentially, am squatting, with permission. But the clock is ticking.

So everyday, I visit Craigslist, most often “housing, sublets and temporary,” looking for a place to live for March, maybe April and May, maybe longer. I’m not limiting myself to the Baltimore area. I’ve also searched, on the Internet, the Eastern Shore, North Carolina, Delaware, Philadelphia and, on really cold days, Arizona.

My options are limited because I’m hesitant to sign up for a year’s lease and, of course, by my  dog — but also by my cheapness. I will probably move to wherever I find the best deal.

For awhile, I thought I’d found it, in Wilmington, N.C. — a pet-friendly, two-bedroom home overlooking the woods on a quiet cul-de-sac close to Wrightsville Beach. At $695 a month.

I emailed about what sort of pet fees and restrictions might apply, and got a speedy response. The house was still available, and they allowed all dogs — except for for Rottweilers, Akitas, chows and pit bulls.

Ace — as some of you may know, and in answer to the question many of you have asked — is  a mix of Rottweiler, Akita, chow and pit bull.

The next day I found affordable paradise again –  a “cottage” in Ellicott City, Md., one that, from the pictures, looked just like what I was looking for. It was secluded, wooded, with two bedrooms and a porch, for only $700.

Again my inquiry was quickly answered:

“Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house..I am Banke Jur, the owner of the house you are making inquiry of. Actually I resided in the house with my family, my wife and my only daughter before and presently we have moved out due to my transfer from my work now in Warsaw,Poland. Presently my house is still available for rent for $700USD (rent already includes utilities). More so Now, i’m currently in the (West African) for an international Christian follower’s crusade …

“Await your urgent reply … please we are giving you all this based on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words, you know that we have not seen yet and only putting everything into Gods hands, so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you more as you do this …

“The house is available for rent at the moment so you are free to move in as soon as you wish to. A Deposit of $500 (which happens to be the security deposit) is required before moving in. Arrangements on how to get the keys and other necessary documents delivered to you.”

Problem was, the same house was listed at $1,650 on a dozen other rental websites, including the Re/Max website, its official listing agency.

My findings thus far? What appears to be a dandy deal is often a sleazy scam. What appears too good to be true, generally is. And what I can afford seems to be a “sleeping room,” a roomate situation, or in a neighborhood that, while the house has been “rehabbed,” the neighbors, unfortunately, have not.

Searching Craigslist has given me some new pet peeves: ads that don’t include a price, address, or even neighborhood; ads for places that proclaim dog-friendliness, but limit that to dogs under 25 pounds; ads proclaiming dog-friendliness that turn out to charge an extra $100 a month for it (Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t “friendliness” you have to pay for generally called prostitution?); ads repeated so often as to make you scream; ads pretending to be offering a property that just funnel you into some other website, sucking up your time.

Not to mention they get no editing. There was one house whose owner boasted it was ”recently remolded.” Apparently the original mold wasn’t good enough.

Another ad on Baltimore’s Craigslist offered free rent for 2 months — on a farm, with pets and horses allowed —  in exchange for “painting services that equal 40 hours/week.”  I could do that. What I could not do, though, was pay the $3000 cash deposit they asked for.

I also came across this ”bachelor or bachelorette pad” at $875 a month, which features a built in bar, stripper pole, and, at least in the photos, what appear to be tools of restraint. I exercised some and didn’t seek more information.

There are plenty of ads for roomates. But at 57, I just can’t see moving in with a roomate, or two, or three. I thought some about this one in Canton, a shared rowhouse, for under $700 — three female roomates looking for a fourth of any gender. There were already some “mellow dogs” living there, according to the ad. Ace and I both fit into that category. While it did set me to humming the theme from “Three’s Company,” I didn’t make an inquiry — mainly because, as much as I’d try to be Jack Tripper, I’d come across as the token old coot. I am, come to think of it, a lot like Don Knotts/Mr. Furley on the inside, masked beneath the cool/sleepy exterior of Norman Fell/Mr. Roper. (Not that I actually watched that show.)

What all this is telling me is that humans, at least those on Craigslist, are not to be automatically trusted — that maybe newspaper classified ads, because people had to pay for them, were at least a bit more reliable, not to mention spam free.

It’s telling me too that that there should be a blacklist of landlords and insurers that unfairly blacklist entire breeds.

And, when I read between the lines, it’s telling me that maybe we’re not meant to settle down. Ace, I’m mostly convinced, wants to. Part of me does, too. But another part is saying that, if I invest in anything, it should be a home with wheels.

Maybe we should continue traveling the country, this time in an RV, Ace and me, perhaps with another zany sidekick – not Fran Drescher – simultaneously filming it for use as either reality show or sitcom.

You better hope I find a home, or you might have to watch it.

Law would declaw landlords, not cats

Landlords would be prohibited from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their pets under a bill approved this week by California lawmakers.

The state Assembly passed the bill by a 44-10 vote, sending it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava, says it is unconscionable for landlords to require pet owners to subject their animals to permanent surgeries as a condition of tenancy.

Under the new law, landlords would be fined $1,000 for demanding those procedures in a lease agreement, according to the Associated Press.

Eight local governments in California banned the practice of cat declawing, according to The Paw Project, which lobbied for the statewide legislation and is urging supporters to contact the governor’s office urging its approval.

Hey landlord, something to think about

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A study by Apartments.com has found that 80 percent of renters say a pet-friendly policy plays a major role in where they choose to live, and nearly one of every three seek out a home that is convenient to ameneties like dog parks and walking trails.

A whopping 90 percent of those responding to the survey said they had a pet, and half of the other 10 percent said they plan to get one within the next year.

While the majority of respondents experienced difficulty finding an apartment that allowed pets, 89 percent said they were not put in a position where they had to choose between their animal and a place to live.

For survey respondents who said they were forced to give up a pet, the two main causes were identified as not being able to find an apartment with a pet-friendly policy (65%) or not being able to afford the pet deposit (27%).

Apartments.com says more properties are welcoming pets. More than 11 million searches were conducted on the website in 2008 by people seeking pet-friendly apartments.

For tips on renting with pets, Apartments.com offers a special section on its website.