Mar. 6th, 2012

nodivision: ([Alix] Bibliophile)
I'd like to introduce you to two very special little men in my life, if you don't know them already.



 


The above spiny gentlemen are Sherlock and Watson, my two pet Hedgehogs.

A little over a year ago I moved into an apartment. At that time I owned Sherlock and was making plans to pick up Watson. As any responsible pet owner would do, at each apartment I looked at I mentioned that I had a hedgehog - often having to explain what that was - and asked about pet policies.

When I went to sign the lease for this apartment, my leasing agent asked me about pets. I told her that I had a hedgehog and would probably have a second soon. She asked what sort of animal that was, and I explained that hedgehogs are small domesticated mammals - similar to having a guinea pig or hamster. They live in cages and do not have free roam of the apartment. At that time she advised me that I didn't need to pay a deposit for a hedgehog, did not need to sign a pet lease for a hedgehog, and I assumed all was fine. I had verbally reported to her that I had these animals, and was told I needed to take no further action.

About a month into living here my building manager came up to ask me about the hedgehogs, as he'd seen the cage when changing a furnace filter. I explained to him what kind of animal they were and told him that my leasing agent had known about them when I moved in and said everything was fine. He said okay and went on his way.

Over this past weekend, I was delivered the forms I needed to sign to renew my lease. There had been changes to the pet policy. The policy now specifically mentions small animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, etc. It states that a tenant can have up to 2 of these type of animal. It says that there is a $100 nonrefundable deposit for each animal. It does not state that a monthly fee is needed. So I, being a responsible tenant, called the office to make sure I was reading everything correctly before signing. I thought paying a $200 deposit for animals that never leave a cage seemed excessive, so I just wanted to check.

The woman I spoke with at around 12:30 today, after checking with someone else, informed me that hedgehogs are not allowed in my building. She believes them to fall under the category of "wildlife," like if you were trying to keep a raccoon in your apartment. I explained to her that they are not native wildlife, they are in fact domesticated exotic animals who came from pet stores or pet breeders. She didn't seem to care much, just restated her point. I then asked her if she was trying to tell me I have to get rid of them. She said yes. I then brought up the following:

A few months back the building changed its rules to no longer allow dogs. Any new tenant moving in cannot bring a dog. Any tenant already owning a dog and already living here at the time the rule changed is allowed to keep their dog. They are grandfathered in.

I asked the lady I was speaking with why these tenants are allowed to keep their dogs and I am not permitted to keep my beloved pets. At the time I moved in I was told I could have hedgehogs. butShe didn't have an answer for me. I asked if there was someone else I could speak with. She said she would have someone else call me or she would call me back.

I arrived home from work at 3:30 to find a notice on my door. The notice tells me that it has been "discovered" that I have an unauthorized pet in my apartment. "Discovered." Remember how I told my leasing agent? Remember how my building manager checked on the animals shortly after I moved in? But no, because I called them today, they have "discovered" my hedgehogs. The notice tells me I am in violation of my lease. It tells me I must pay a $300 fine in 3 business days and that the animals must be removed immediately or I may face eviction.


Needles to say, this all has me extremely upset. I called the office as soon as I got home from work but they seem to leave extremely early. I left a message explaining that the hedgehogs were declared on the day I signed my lease. I then called my father, who is a cosigner on the lease, and talked him through everything while blubbering through my tears. He also called and left a message.

I am hoping, hoping, hoping that tomorrow my father is able to speak to someone (difficult for me to do so as I am at work and also the blubbering!) and clear this all up. But I am preparing for the worst.

I need to be prepared to find new homes for my hedgehogs as soon as possible. Hedgehogs are amazing pets but they require a lot - precise temperatures, a strict lighting schedule, daily handing, weighing, and often cleaning, and cages and toys that have to be cleaned on a regular basis. They cannot just be taken to the shelter or dropped at a friend's house. I have sent out messages to the online hedgehog community, my local exotic vet, and m friends and family. But finding homes for hedgehogs is not easy. If you or anyone you know has experience with hedgehogs and is willing to help with a rescue or rehoming, please let me know. I am located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and am willing to do a few hours travel to get these guys somewhere safe.

In addition, should this be a more complicated battle that my father and I ty to fight,I'd love advice. I don't know how far I want to pursue this as far as taking legal action, but advice can't hurt. I also do not have funds for any legal help, so if anyone knows any free services in Indiana that I can use, let me know.

:::EDIT:::

THE BOYS ARE STAYING! We were able to get everything worked out, I don't have to pay any fines, and they get to stay right where they have always been. Thank you EVERYONE for you advice and support, I truly appreciate it. I'm glad this was not as long of a battle as it could have been.

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