by Stephen Ursery
Inclusivity was the buzzword at the 2022 Pet Awards.
While most rental housing operators consider themselves pet-friendly, about the same number of renters find it difficult to locate pet-friendly housing, according to the national 2021 Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative report.
Removing breed and weight restrictions set the grand prize winners apart at this year’s Pet Awards, presented April 26 at the Apartment Innovation and Marketing Conference by Michelson Found Animals Foundation to showcase pet-inclusive communities.
The Management Group of Atlanta was named the Most Pet-Inclusive Company, while the Bottling Plant/Oculus of Maryland took three awards, including the Most Pet-Inclusive Community award.
Like Oculus and The Management Group, more and more rental housing operators are considering the removal of weight and breed restrictions to be more attractive to pet owners, which now accounts for about 68 percent of U.S. households.
“We need to go beyond being pet-friendly and think about how we can be pet-inclusive,” Michelson Found Animals CEO Brett Yates said. “Acknowledging the important place animals have in our lives just makes good business sense.”
The Management Group decided to remove all breed and size restrictions three years ago. Today, pets occupy 70 percent of their units, double the 2019 rate.
And renters with pets stay longer, which is more important than ever as retention rates this year have fallen to 40 percent or less in larger markets. That’s far below the 58 percent of residents who chose to stay put during COVID’s apex when pet ownership ballooned as more than 23 million Americans adopted a pet.
“Renters are moving after the pandemic, and rental housing operators looking to create stickiness are thinking about the advantages of reaching out to pet owners,” said Judy Bellack, who represents the Michelson Found Animals’ Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative to create better, safer, and more inclusive pet communities. She presented the awards along with Chief Pet Officer Heidi Sirota of Nationwide Insurance.
Other awardees included Panorama of Florida East Coast Realty and The Village Dallas, which had the most innovative pet amenities. Panorama has a dog hotel attached to its skyscraper tower, and The Village has a splash pad and shaded outdoor trails. The Outstanding Pet Citizen award was given to Belmont Village Senior Living for its therapy dog. Click for photos of the event and videos of the winners.
J.C. Hart Company of Indiana had the most successful adopt-a-pet event, and Houndswood Village of Progress Residential of North Carolina had the most innovative pet marketing. Lowertown Lofts under Bigos Management had the Most Impactful Pet-Related Review or Social Post.
Learn more at petsandhousing.org.