Pets are a testy subject. I love pets….my pets. Other people’s pets I can take or leave. Pets are like kids in that respect. Generally, when pets are well controlled they don’t interfere with my property enjoyment and I have no reason to even raise an eyebrow about other people’s pets.
Then there’s strata!
Somehow strata life is particularly susceptible to strife about pets. It is amazing what owners will do to defend their pets against anyone for any reason – like parents and kids.
I will readily admit that I am a tough critic towards my kids and I’m certain my kids will agree. However, I have a more difficult time hearing criticism about my children from someone else even if I might actually agree. Pets are no different. Needless to say, criticism of pets and children is really a criticism of owners and parents which I suppose creates defensive positions.
There are rules for pets and children in strata. Most corporation bylaws deal specifically with one and indirectly with the other for obvious reasons but pets are the subject today so I’ll stick with pets.
Sometimes purchasers buy a strata unit and don’t read the bylaws. They toured the property and saw some cats and a dog or two and made reasonable assumptions about pets. Problem with the assumption is that those pets may belong to visitors or a are special privilege granted conditionally by council. The strata corporation may in fact have a no pets bylaw but a lazy approach to bylaw enforcement.
As soon as buyers become owners of a strata unit,they seem to buy into the landowner-master of my domain belief. Caught up in that sense of entitlement, an owner can become extremely narrow-minded about bylaw contravention and become rather loud when spewing the “Live and let live” mantra.
Pet owners always define themselves as strata owners. Let’s see: Owners who treat their pets like humans generally have a disregard for people and live rather isolated lives.Additionally, owners who have unhealthy attachment issues live through the public behaviors of their pets. For example, an insecure owner may publicly train their pet on the common property where all owners can see the tricks and pay homage to the skills of the trainer.Then there are owners with house bound pets which invariably leads to noxious odours and often times excessive barking for dogs and deck marauding by cats.
Here’s the thing: Noxious odours, visiting felines and barking neighbours upset the peaceable enjoyment of other owner’s property. One owner’s pets do not supersede another owner’s rights. The issue is contentious because pets are often thought of as “children” and as I pointed out earlier, it’s difficult to criticize someone’s pet. Owners take it very personally.
I find most strata corporations write bylaws about pets that are considerate of their building environment and the type of common property available to all owners.
Oftentimes townhouse complexes require dogs be leashed while on common property. This bylaw makes sense because not all people are comfortable around dogs. An enthusiastic pup can really frighten a young child or an older person. Furthermore, common areas are for the use of owners and dogs being trained off leash limit that use. There is no more interesting event than the clash between toddler parents and pet owners claiming priority on common property.
Common property is not the ideal place for doggy doo because who wants to walk in a pee puddle or have their fingers meet with poo residue?
Pet owners don’t always clean up after their pets either. Cats leave messes in shrubs and planter boxes. I never see owners of cats picking up after their cats. What’s with that? Cat feces sanitary or something? And don’t even get me started on spraying.Cat spray stinks!
But despite all the reasons for complaining about pets, there are owners and council members who live to threaten and harass pet owners.
I watched strata owners get an eviction notice because their dog defied the odds and grew past the height requirement stipulated in the bylaws. I’ve heard stories about councils making decisions without getting all the facts (a pre-requisite it seems)and owners overwhelmed by ridiculous fines based upon one-sided complaints with no substance.
Pets are personal. They are extensions of ourselves. But, pets are no more of a problem in strata than any other issue because the rule of thumb: know your bylaws before you buy a strata unit. If you don’t like the existing pet bylaws and cannot see yourself living within the restrictions every owner must follow then, for goodness sake, DON’T BUY IN THAT PARTICULAR STRATA. Find a strata more compatible with your pet persona or better yet buy a detached home.
If you read your bylaws about pets and follow them but your council does not enforce contraventions by other pet owners then you are obligated to both yourself and your pets to demand accountability. If you have a bully council that isn’t pet friendly despite bylaws fight the contradiction.
It all comes down to the concept of strata living. There are rules for everyone so everyone can enjoy living in a strata. If you are willing to let fines be levied against you and pile up without argument then you are part of the problem. If you willfully ignore the bylaws you agreed to comply with when you purchased then you are also part of the problem.
Pets and strata strife really comes down to each owner’s willingness or unwillingness to follow bylaws so know your bylaws and govern yourself and your pets accordingly.