Pet Wrangling in Associations

Pet Wrangling in Associations

Most people have a soft spot for pets, and many Associations and Co-ops pride themselves in being pet-friendly places. However, rules about pet ownership are necessary since pets don’t govern themselves, and harmony is needed between pet owners and pet-free residents. The board of directors is responsible for making clear, enforceable rules and working with the management company to enforce the rules fairly and consistently.

Communities often have rules for size, number of pets and breed, and it’s important for potential owners to learn the rules before moving in. Once a pet owner moves in to a home, there will be rules about where the pet can be walked, which elevator or hallway they may use and where they may relieve themselves. Trouble pops up, though, when a dog becomes overweight and outgrows the weight restriction, or when someone refuses to pick up after their pet. What’s a board to do to enforce the rules?

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Though all owners receive a copy of the rules and regulations when they move in, the pet regulations may not stay top of mind. Post signs in common areas about keeping pets on leash and picking up after them. Send out a memo periodically about the rules, or add an article a few times a year to your community’s newsletter. This not only reminds everyone about the rules, but also keeps it in their minds when a neighbor sees someone breaking the rules.

Make it Easy to Comply
“A pet waste station in heavily trafficked areas is a convenient way to provide residents with the tools they need to clean up waste,” says Philip Barasch of Suburban Scoopers, a pet waste removal company in the northern suburbs. Pet waste stations are available in a wide variety of models and price ranges, but normally consist of a waste bag dispenser and a disposal bin. These stations fit easily in the corner of an urban dog run or on a common area lawn.

“It’s important to note that heavily soiled areas of any community will repeatedly attract stray dogs and other animals,” Barasch adds. “These areas should be routinely cleaned of all pet waste, disinfected if needed and have an organic odor eliminator applied to reduce the attraction to dogs.”

Enforce Wisely
Rule enforcement can be complicated, and the best outcome is that people comply without strained relationships. If a pet is disturbing the peace, for example, the first step should be a friendly conversation neighbor-to-neighbor, rather than a complaint letter issued. A board may want to handle things differently if a pet slipped its leash one day, versus the owner who lets the dog run every day off leash. A graduated system of reminders, warning letters and fines are a common-sense solution.

If someone finds dog droppings near a building where there are several dog owners, the property manager may not know which owner is the offender or even which owners have dogs. The manager must then issue a warning to all residents in the building. This does not mean everyone is accused, but could encourage pet owners to notify the management company when they see someone not picking up after their pet.

Property managers cannot be everywhere in the community 24×7, so they need your help to identify problems. The result is a more harmonious association where pet lovers can enjoy themselves without inconveniencing those who don’t have furry friends.