Dog Breed Restrictions for On-Base Military Housing
If you're moving into military housing, you probably have questions about whether or not your family's beloved dog is allowed. Privatized housing companies have created their own policies regarding banned breeds, but they’re also intertwined with official military installation policies among the branches.
This is confusing for new residents because the language somewhat differs. Not only are the breed restrictions different, but the number of pets allowed in a home changes from base to base and company to company. Add in the fact that some of these breeds have the potential to be certified assistance animals, and the policies and the possibilities for a waiver become even more difficult to navigate.
Rules banning specific dog breeds in military housing started around 2008-2009. It’s commonly thought that these bans were set into place after two significant events. The first was an uptick in dog bites and attacks on military families living on base. The second was the full implementation of privatized housing, which had to accommodate safety regulations in order to obtain insurance.
When searching for dog breed restrictions on military bases, it's a safe bet that the list will include:
- American Pit Bull
- Stafford Bull Terrier
- Bull Mastiff
- Doberman Pinscher
- Rhodesian Ridge Back
- Chow Chow
- Wolf Breeds
- Cross of any of the above mentioned.
This isn’t an exhaustive list; each base and housing company has their own policies, but these breeds are typically singled out. When searching housing companies for specific information on their banned breed lists, they often require direct contact to their offices. Corvias Military Housing is an exception in that they have a picture guide that details restricted breeds. Here is an example from the property they manage on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Dog Breed Restrictions for On-Base Military Housing
Causes for Contention
An Army-wide memo in 2012 explained that breed bans on bases do not serve their purpose as it is the owner, not the breed, that determines a dog’s behavior. The Air Force Standardized Pet Policy similarly states that, "Residents may not board dogs of any breed (including a mixed breed) that are deemed 'aggressive or potentially aggressive,' unless the dog is a certified military working dog that is being boarded by its handler/trainer or approval is obtained by the Installation Commander in writing."
Military families who own these dogs and prefer to live on base have for years been vocal about the unfair prejudice against the breeds and echo the Army and Air Force memos which place the blame on owners for aggressive behaviors. However, even with significant publicity and organized petitions, these baseline bans remain.
(Related: Is Your Exotic Pet Allowed in Military Housing? No, your monkey can’t live on base.)
Another source of contention among banned breed owners is the official designation of mixed breeds. There is room for interpretation from veterinarians on how exactly to label a dog with lineage from a restricted breed. Increasingly, officials require a dog DNA test to prove the dog’s breed, but banned breed advocates also contest these results because they have plenty of room for error, and owners question the percentage of a restricted breed bloodline that is deemed too high.
Although a mixed puppy may have Stafford Bull Terrier heritage, it could easily have other breed lines such as the very docile Labrador Retriever. Which breed should the veterinarian document? Sometimes, simple paperwork from a professional makes all the difference for the ability to live on base.
Housing offices use either the breed name listed on your pet’s vet records or DNA results. Again, verification varies from base to base. For example, housing on MCB Quantico requires one of the two options and will not accept non-specific breed words such as “mixed” or “mutt” from the vet.
Options for Military Families Owning a Banned Dog Breed
1) Find a rental home off base.
One option many military families choose is to rent a home off base. However, renting sometimes poses its own set of road blocks because many commercial rental communities and deed restricted neighborhoods prohibit the same breeds as the local base housing office.
But, there are accommodating homeowners out there who have experience owning a banned breed and may understand the challenges of a renter who happens to have a heart for dogs traditionally labeled aggressive.
A real estate agent with experience in the rental market might have the inside scoop on pet friendly rentals. It's also a great idea to have a letter from a former property owner who can vouch on your behalf about the behavior of your dog.
2) Buy a home.
When all else fails in a rental search, many families choose to buy a home instead so they can accommodate the needs of their furry family members. In deed-restricted neighborhoods, breed restrictions may still exist, but otherwise, buying a home will free you from pet ban restrictions.
To help you better identify a pet-friendly home near your new base that has fenced and spacious yards, a pro real estate agent will be glad to help you quickly identify a house that best fits your needs.
3) Consider rehoming or temporary care for your pet.
While this option is a last resort, as well as heartbreaking for families who see their dog as a member of the family, should your family truly desire to live on base, you may consider alternative homes for your pet. Whether trusted friends or family members care for your dog while you live on base, there are also reputable online resources that permit rehoming requests. The same is true for dog breed specific rescues and no kill shelters.
Some options to explore:
It doesn’t seem as though the restrictions on dog breeds allowed to live in military housing are going away anytime soon. It's a tough call to make for officials--to craft policies that consider both the public’s safety and the rights of serious dog owners willing to do the work it takes to maintain the high expectations placed on banned breeds.
Did you know that the Advanced Search settings on MilitaryByOwner includes a filter to list rentals that accept pets? Yep! So take a chance on one of the owners. They could be banned breed dog friendly!
Based on a post by Karina Gafford, updated 2019 by Dawn M. Smith. Post is for informational purposes only and should not be viewed as legal advice. Check with your installation's housing office for specifics on their pet policies.