13 Investigates


Pet owners facing eviction often face devastating choice between housing, their animals

Animal-friendly rental housing scarce in Las Vegas
Pets at Hearts Alive Village
Pets at Hearts Alive Village
Pets at Hearts Alive Village
Pets at Hearts Alive Village
Pets at Hearts Alive Village
Pets at Hearts Alive Village
Posted at 6:03 AM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 09:22:23-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The threat of evictions around the valley has been delayed but certainly not eliminated.

This is especially hard for people with pets because they might have to give them up to find a new place to live.

Amy Clatterbuck is the director of operations for Hearts Alive Village. The nonprofit rescue is increasingly taking in animals from people who are losing their homes.

"I could never put myself in that position because it breaks my heart even thinking about it," she said.

RELATED: Help available for Southern Nevadans facing eviction because of pandemic

Social media posts highlight the hardship of those separated from their pets, compounding the loss of their home.

A Las Vegas property manager who runs Z’s Promise Rescue sees the effects on both renters and animals. She's found several dogs abandoned in on-property dog parks.

In a recent Facebook post, a dog owner puts out a plea for help re-homing three dogs she can't keep anymore because she's lost her place to live.

And pet owner Megan Ortiz tells us after a recent eviction, she and two family members chose to temporarily live in their car rather than give up their two dogs and two cats.

"I would do anything," said Diane Iuliucci, whose family found themselves in a similar situation. "My heart was broken because my child really does not want to lose this dog."

Her landlord recently decided to sell the house she's been renting for the last eight years.

"Unfortunately, I'm not in that place right now to buy a home, so he's not renewing my lease," Iuliucci said.

Iuliucci is a single mother, supporting two kids on a Clark County School District teacher's salary.

She has to be out of her home by the end of August.

"I'd say at least 80% of the houses that I've seen, not only had many applicants, but also a no pet rule. So, it's been very, very difficult and then deposits are really high or pet rents are really high," Iuliucci said.

For her, giving up her dog, Ozzie has not been an option.

"To give him up - it would break my heart. I never believed in giving up a dog. That's part of my family. That's not my belief," she said.

Iuliucci considered moving back east to live with family but couldn't take the dog and after about two months of searching, she says she finally found a place.

"The reason I got this one is because they said I was the first applicant. They had many behind me so either take it --and I had days - they're like no, we've got to know now because we've got five right behind you," Iuliucci said.

Taking that townhome came with a financial hit in order to keep Ozzie.

"For the dog, it's $500 for a pet deposit, non-refundable," she said.

MORE: Free money for Nevada renters impacted by pandemic

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 72% of renters have pets, yet the inability to find pet-friendly rental housing is a leading reason why animals are relinquished to shelters.

HSUS says anti-pet policies on most rental apartments have held firm, particularly for those available to lower-income renters.

"Moving was already one of the biggest reasons why people surrender their pets and now it's become an overwhelming reason and it's gonna be a tough summer," said Lori Heeren, of the Nevada SPCA.

Especially, as the end of July brings the end of the federal eviction moratorium.

"I think it's going to displace thousands of animals," said Heeren.

NSPCA is already at least a week out with owner surrender appointments, making it tough to help people in immediate need.

Heeren shared one pet owner's story with us when touring the shelter's new building earlier this month.

"Sadly, we just had a call from a gentleman that is being kicked out of his place, has a 7-year-old chihuahua that he has to place somewhere, doesn't want to, was crying on the phone. So, there's a real need right now with what's happening with people changing their living situation and moving to different situations where they can't have their pets," she said.

Amy Clatterbuck with Hearts Alive Village showed us two dogs they took in as a result of people having to move across the country and two more that were recently surrendered by a local veteran.

"The Animal Foundation actually called us. Their KEPPT program is full right now. They didn't have room for him. So, we're just temp boarding. He's homeless now," she said.

The Animal Foundation's KEPPT program, which stands for Keeping Every Person and Pet Together, is designed to avoid animal surrender.

Through grants and donations, it provides free pet food, veterinary care, and so far, this month over $3,000 in pet deposit payments directly to landlords to help people find housing with their pets.

But they can't help everyone.

"Right now, it's just an overpopulation of homeless animals going into the shelter due to people having to move out of their homes," Clatterbuck explained.

So, the valley's municipal shelter has to refer people to local rescues.

Hearts Alive Village is an example of just one rescue in the valley. They tell us they're receiving three to four requests per day of people needing to surrender their cats.

But whether it's cats, dogs or other pets, Hearts Alive is here to help.

With their pet food bank, Clatterbuck says they have fed almost 5,000 families as far as keeping their pets and feeding their animals.

But everyone we've talked to says the real solution is prevention.

"I think it just comes down to us letting these associations and landlords know that they are part of this problem," said Clatterbuck. "And breaking up families is basically what they're doing."

"It's a pet-friendly city," Iuliucci said, while leaning down to pet Ozzie. "There are pet parks everywhere. It's always been that way. At least I've always found it that way. So, I don't understand why it's changing so much."


Apartments.com, the leading website for rental properties, encourages pet-friendly rentals, noting that those properties can earn more money, the tenants stay longer and it provides a larger pool of tenants to choose from.

Click here for information and guidance on searching for pet-friendly rental options in Las Vegas.

Click here to read the Humane Society's Pets Are Welcome guide, to help pet owners navigate rental housing restrictions and learn more about their rights as renters.

The Animal Foundation’s Keeping Every Person and Pet Together (KEPPT) program can assist people who need help with veterinary care, short-term boarding, emergency pet deposits and pet food assistance. Find out if you or someone you know is eligible by calling 702-955-5910 or by emailing KEPPT@animalfoundation.com.

Click here for information from the ASPCA on keeping people and pets together in the midst of COVID19 housing challenges.

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