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In Baltimore, apartments aim to win over renters by appealing to their pets

Sarah Gantz, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Home and Consumer News

After moving to Baltimore last year for his first job out of law school, Alex Stimac was ready for a new apartment and a new roommate -- preferably one with four legs and fur. He chose 26 S. Calvert St. for its convenience and reasonable rent, but also because it allowed pets, he said.

"It was a selling point, if not a deal breaker," said Stimac, 30.

Stimac moved into his new apartment May 15 of last year and on June 1 brought home Suttree, a one-and-a-half-year-old pug named for the title character of a Cormac McCarthy tale.

Unlike his namesake Cornelius Suttree, who gave up a life of luxury to become a fisherman, Suttree the pug lives large in downtown Baltimore. He goes for walks several times a day and likes to greet the other dogs residing in the building.

"He's such a city dog," Stimac quipped as Suttree pranced around with a gaggle of other pups in an artificial turf park opened by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore across the street from his building.

Not all dogs have been welcomed at apartments.

A state law that made landlords responsible for dog-related incidents led many to enforce breed restrictions to keep out pit bulls, terriers and other breeds some consider more aggressive and potentially dangerous. The law was reversed a few years ago, but the restrictions remain in place at many buildings in the state, said Bailey Deacon, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter.

As a result, hundreds of dogs are surrendered to BARCS by owners who are unable to take them to a new apartment, she said.

The restrictions, which are more common at large complexes, haven't kept BARCS from getting thousands of dogs adopted, but, Deacon said, "if there were fewer places in the city that had breed restrictions we'd be able to place even more."

Still, with more dogs moving in downtown, city planners see an opportunity to strengthen the neighborhood's sense of community.

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