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Pet Policies: Regulating Our Furry Friends, By: Jillian M. Henzler, Esq.

Jillian M. Henzler, Associate

Board members generally have authority to adopt and enforce rules within their community. While most rules are created to protect the owners and residents living in the association, a large number of households also include pets. Boards can, and should, seek to adopt pet policies to ensure that man’s best friend does not turn into every neighbor’s worst enemy.

The specific type of rule each community can adopt may differ based on the language contained in the association’s governing documents.  It is important to remember that rules cannot conflict with any of the restrictions already present in the association’s Declaration.  For example, if the association’s Declaration allows animals, the board cannot pass rules that says no pets are allowed.  However, the board can pass rules to regulate the conduct of a pet, as well as its owner.

In order for a rule to be enforceable, the rule should be based on the pet’s behavior. Requiring that pets be leashed in the common elements would ensure that all residents, and animals alike, have access to a safe environment. Proper disposal of pet waste is another rule that can be adopted by the board.  It can also be encouraged by properly posted signage, ample trash containers in the common elements, and even access to pet waste bags in heavily trafficked areas. 

Similar to any rule enacted by the board, it is important to remember that pet rules must be evenly enforced, and proper evidence of violations must exist if any complaints are received. Reasonable pet policies that hold owners accountable can keep both pets and residents safe, while allowing the community to enjoy the elevated health and wellness benefits our furry friends can provide!