Although it might seem like a joke, pet resumes are quickly becoming a way would-be Vancouver renters are distinguishing themselves from, ahem, the rest of the pack.

A pet resume is a short one page description of your pet including breed, type, health issues, references — with a name and photo included of course.

Even if your landlord doesn't request a pet resume, Andrew Sakamoto of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre (TRAC) says having one ready can help your application stand out.

"It's quite simple," he said. "But it shows that they're taking this seriously."

And there's plenty of help to get you started — TRAC is including a section on pets and how to make a pet resume in their new online course on renting, and the B.C. SPCA has a reference pet resume (PDF).

No pets allowed?

In a city where vacancy rates are among the lowest in the country — below one per cent —  finding pet-friendly accommodation can be a big challenge. 

Janelle Laycock who runs petrentals.com — a site that identifies pet-friendly buildings — says pet-owners "have to jump through hoops to get a place."

"It's going to cost you more, you're going to have to really make your pet look awesome, and you're going to have a lot less to choose from," she said.

But the Vancouver resident — who has been both a tenant and a landlord — says a pet resume could help people charm landlords who have a no pets policy.  

"I've never made an official pet resume," she admitted. "But I've always included photos and details about my dog and references from past landlords about my dog...[and] I've actually rented places that say no pets."

Renting a tougher process for everyone

Sakamoto says the pet resume is just one part of a package of documents tenants can present to future landlords in order to set themselves apart in a rental market with such a low vacancy rate.

He recommends future tenants — even those without pets — complete a cover letter, put their references together, and do their own credit report before going to a viewing.

"At the end of the day, we believe that if a tenant goes to a viewing with any sort of official, tangible document, it shows that they're organized and they've prepared in advance for a viewing," he said.

Four things to include in your pet resume

As for those who want to get started on their own pet resume, here are some things that every pet resume should have:

  1. Name and photo: include your pet's name, a recent photograph, age, breed and weight.
  2. Health information:  include up-to-date vaccinations your pet has had, and any current medications it might be on.
  3. Experience: any obedience training or courses completed & note any behavioural issues and resolutions.
  4. References: get a reference from former landlords, a veterinarian, or someone who can speak about your pet's behaviour.