Landlord offers discount for tenant willing to adopt a dog

Big Louie, an 80-pound grey brindle Pit Bull Terrier, was abandoned by his first family. The gentle-giant-turned-shelter-dog was in need of a happy home.

Sandy Zalagens and Big Louie; the landlord offered a discount to a tenant who adopted the Pit Bull. (Photo credit: Sandy Zalagens)

That is, until Los Angeles realtor, landlord, and longtime dog-rescue advocate Sandy Zalagens stepped in.

The landlord and Keller Williams realtor has promoted dog adoption since 1993, according to The Huffington Post. With every home she sells, Zalagens sponsors a dog in need, and she has inspired her real estate office to hold fundraisers for local pet rescue groups.

“Dogs are my big why,” Zalagens tells The Huffington Post.

As Big Louie struggled to find his forever home, Zalagens was on the hunt for the perfect new tenant for one of her properties. As she was writing an ad for the apartment, a light bulb went off — perhaps she could find the perfect tenant and the perfect home for a Pit Bull in need at the same time.

“Rent is $950; $150 a month discount if you adopt Big Louie,” the final ad read.

After a couple of weeks, Jessie McElwee contacted Zalagens regarding the apartment — and the dog that came with it. Big Louie is now enjoying life in his new home with McElwee, who Zalagens calls “the perfect tenant.” Big Louie also has a new four-legged friend — the tenant’s cat.

Though her unconventional offer may have raised a few eyebrows for technically skirting fair-housing laws, Zalagens is happy with the result because she found a Pit Bull a wonderful home. “They are the underdog of today’s dog world,” Zalagens says of the misunderstood breed.

Pets, particularly Pit Bulls, are often not welcome in rental properties, Zalagens explains, because of the public’s perception that the breed is inherently dangerous. Though it’s irresponsible owners who should be blamed, it’s dogs like Big Louie who end up falsely labeled “vicious.”

With more and more families having to give up their homes in these tough economic times, the rental market is booming. Unfortunately, Zalagens says, many landlords are unwilling to accept tenants with pets, and the intake rates at shelters are skyrocketing as a result.

“Landlords who don’t permit pets to move in are a huge part of the homeless pet problem,” Zalagens says. When she heard about Big Louie, she knew she had to be part of the solution. “I just felt I had to do something to address that,” she tells The Huffington Post.

Sources: The Huffington Post, Examiner.com