The last couple weeks of October 2010 could not have been any busier. Some of the biggest changes of my life were happening. I was becoming a homeowner and the closing date on my very own house was approaching.
Before I could close on my house, the septic system needed to be in compliance with state recommendations. My cousin, Joel, was the foreman on crew that was installing the new system. As the project was nearing its completion, I decided to stop out to my future home and check on the progress. In one week, this house would be mine. It was difficult to absorb all of the changes that were happening.
I decided to bring someone else along to check on the progress. She was my reason for buying a house. Lili. My year-old pit bull mix accompanied me.
As I pulled into the driveway, there was another car present. My insurance agent stopped out to take pictures of the house. After being insured through this agency for over 15 years, this was my first time actually meeting my insurance agent. He introduced himself, we shook hands, and he looked toward Lili, smiling, and said, “Who’s this?”
“This is Lili,” I said.
“Hi, Lili,” he said, reaching toward her and patting her on the top of the head. Lili wagged her tail, content and happy to be greeting a new person.
He asked if he could see the inside of the house, so I let him inside and let Lili off of her leash. We chatted, just small talk about the property and the house. Lili ran from room to room, checking out the empty space she would soon occupy.
Lili sat down next to a wall, and the conversation with my insurance agent soon turned back to Lili.
“What kind of dog is she?” he asked.
“She’s a pit bull mix. She came from a shelter, so there’s no saying what that mix is,” I said.
“Well, she seems very nice,” he said. He finished his quick check of the house and soon left. I took Lili back to my apartment.
The following Tuesday, with just three days remaining before I closed on my house, I received a phone call from my insurance agent.
“There seems to be a couple issues regarding your homeowner’s insurance,” he said.
I tensed up after hearing what he said.
“What kind of issues?” I asked.
“Well, there’s too much spacing between your deck railings. A child could fall through that space.”
“But I don’t have kids,” I said, “And can’t I just add some additional boards to fix it?” I asked.
“Well, you could. But there’s something else.”
“What?” I asked.
“Your dog. We can’t insure homeowners with pit bulls.”
I stood silent for a moment, stunned at what I was hearing.
“What do you mean? Why?” I said, the tension building in me. “You met her. You praised her. You saw how nice she is, and you even said she was a nice, well-behaved dog.”
“I know,” he said, “She does seem like a very nice dog. I’m sorry, but it’s our policy. We don’t insure homeowners who have dogs that are labeled as aggressive.”
“But she’s not aggressive,” I argued. “She’s the reason I’m buying my house. She’s never done anything wrong.”
“I believe you, and I’m not the one making the rules. I just have to follow policy,” he said. “To be honest with you, we see more dog bites from Labs than any other type of dog,” he said.
“Well, do you insure Lab owners?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because, they’re the most popular breed of dog,” he said, seeming to finally understand my point of view.
“What am I supposed to do? I close on my house in three days!” I said.
“My only suggestion would be to get rid of the dog,” he said.
I was on the verge of an emotional meltdown. My patience had run out.
“That’s NOT an option. I’ll figure something else out,” I stammered.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say,” he said.
After hanging up the phone, I immediately placed a call to my mom. She had recently switched insurance companies from the same agency I was just dealing with to a smaller agency.
She told me the name of who she contacted at Farimont Farmers Insurance. I placed a call and explained my situation.
“What kind of dog do you have?” asked the representative.
“She’s a pit bull mix.”
“Ok, mixed breed,” the man said. “She ever bite anyone?”
“No, of course not,” I said.
“Ok, we’re all good. We’ll get the rest of your info and you’re good to go.”
“Really? It’s that simple?” I asked.
“We don’t care what kind of dog you have. As long as she doesn’t have a bite history, as far as I’m concerned, a dog is a dog.”
“Thank you!” I said, clearly relieved at how quickly this situation seemed to be resolving itself.
“There’s one more thing,” I said. “The spacing on the railings on the deck. That’s something the other insurance agency mentioned.”
“If we see something that needs to be fixed, we’ll tell you,” he said.
To this day, the railings are the same width as they were when I bought the place. Nobody has fallen off of my deck, either. That includes my dogs.
After closing on my house on Halloween weekend, Lili and I both moved into a home where she was allowed to roam, run, play and do the things dogs do. I proceeded to drop my car insurance from my old company after the debacle with their refusal to insure my home. After being insured by them for 16 years, I was starting over.
In the coming months, Lili would get her very own canine roommate, Rufus. He’s and American Staffordshire terrier. He was adopted from a local humane society.
I wasn’t quite done adding four-legged friends to my home. In April, 2012, I decided to try fostering a dog. His name is Kane. Kane is also a pit bull mix.
Five months after I began fostering him, I adopted him. My home had become his, and three dogs seemed like a great combination.
But there was something about fostering I hadn’t quite succeeded at. I adopted my first foster dog, so I decided to give it one more try. Along came Simon. Simon is a pit bull-boxer mix.
History repeated itself with fostering. Just a few weeks after I began fostering this energetic little white dog with eyebrows, I adopted him too.
My house was now full. My heart was full. I purchased a house in order to keep Lili, and I created my own American family of canines. I could fulfill my own little American dream without the assistance of a larger insurance company that discriminated against a certain type of dog based on what the dog looked like.
Lili and Rufus have both completed certification through the AKC and are recognized as Canine Good Citizens. Kane and Simon will both go through testing sometime in the near future.
Lili, Rufus, Kane and Simon are happy, healthy and content, and very much loved. They aren’t aware of insurance policies that discriminate. They don’t know what biased judgment is. If only we could all know that feeling.
I’m fortunate to have had other options. If only we all did.
PupJournal is proudly hosting National #PitBullWeek, or #NPBW, to celebrate blocky-headed wigglebutts, otherwise known as “pit bulls.” It’s time these pups are able to live their lives free from discrimination and harm. You can find articles, videos, and adoptable dogs on our National Pit Bull Week page and on Facebook. Join us by tagging National #PitBullWeek, or #NPBW!