Homeowners only rent to big dog owners

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Just a few months ago, Bryan and Tracie Carr were calling homeowners, searching for a place to rent that would welcome them and their two dogs, Bella and Raja.

"The second they hear pit bull or German Shepherd, it's just so frustrating," Tracie said. "Most of the time people will say, 'Oh, thank you. We've gone with somebody else.' Or, 'Oh, no, the house has been rented.'"

The Carrs said they spent about a month emailing and calling more than two-dozen people, trying to find a home to rent for themselves and their two big dogs.

Bella and Raja are both restricted breed dogs, like pit bulls, huskies, Rottweilers and other breeds many landlords often shy away from.

With no success finding a home to rent in Pennsylvania, the Carrs started searching in Jacksonville.

Friends connected them to the people who own a house in Mandarin and only rent to people who have big dogs.

"It's a relief," Tracie said. "I wish there were more people out there like them."

"It was great," Bryan said. "I was definitely relieved because we were kind of coming down to the wire to find a place to live, and it just happened the right way I guess."

The homeowners, Jade and Greg Rouzeau, know what the Carrs and other big dog owners go through. They have two pit bulls. Thats why the Craigslist ad for the home is loud and clear: "Responsible renters with large dogs a must."

"My husband and I are very responsible dog owners, and we want to change the perception that people who have large dogs are irresponsible," Jade said.

The Carrs said they feel welcome to a home and a community already used to the owners' big dogs.

Neighbor Gary St. John said there haven't been any issues so far, and he's open-minded about the idea of more big dogs as neighbors.

"As long as they're maintained, it's not a problem," he said. "It's just like my dog: I've got a dog, and if I don't maintain the dog, then the neighbors would have a problem."

It's an unexpected welcome, one the Carrs hope other homeowners would be open to.

"Maybe go meet the dog that's coming in the house, because as you guys saw, our pit bull, she's not going to hurt a fly," Bryan said. "So I think that would go a long way."

The home will be available in August because the Carrs have decided to move. Going forward, they say they plan to buy a house for themselves and for their dogs, because they said they don't expect to have the same kind of good fortune again.