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Workable Solutions to Pet “Problems”

Sunday, December 16, 2007 by: Maida W. Genser
Tags: pets, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) It is not surprising that almost 65 percent of households have at least one animal companion. There is more than ample evidence that having companion animals can have all kinds of benefits. According to the Center for Disease Control, pets can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness, and increase your opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities and also opportunities for socialization. Furthermore, pets have been found to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, shorten hospital stays, help people recuperate faster, and even act as an early warning system for serious health incidents like heart attacks and seizures.

Even with all of this evidence, there is a deep-rooted resistance to allowing pets in association-run housing. Condos and other CIDs (home owners associations, co-ops and mobile home parks) often come with no-pet deed restrictions. The common complaints are pet droppings, barking, jumping on people, and allergies.

All around the country, animal activists and Responsible Dog Owners groups work to educate people to clean up after their dogs. In a number of places, these groups have successfully instituted dog parks and dog beaches. There are other things besides education, to help deal with the poop issue. There are pooper-scoopers, even some with long handles to minimize bending, to make it easier for people to do self clean-up, and poop freeze products to get rid of the smell. Wouldn't it be less expensive to create special dog walk areas, complete with plastic bag dispensers and waste receptacles - or to even hire a waste removal service than to hire lawyers to remove people's pets?

Incessant barking is definitely undesirable. How to deal with inappropriate barking? People who live close to their neighbors may have to choose between having a barking dog or opening doors and windows for fresh air flow. It is just not neighborly to have a dog barking out of an open porch. Part of general obedience training can be barking control. Training can help reduce barking. A segment of The View showed Cesar Milan, "The Dog Whisperer" training Joy Behar's dogs not to bark out of control every time she walked out of her apartment. Some barking, though, is a good thing; it warns of danger.

Jumping is another issue that can be solved with training. Dogs need regular exercise. And they need general obedience training. Like Cesar Milan says, the person has to become the pack leader, the boss. Also, dogs walked in common areas should be properly restrained. A condo is no place to let a dog loose.

The allergy issue is a spurious reason to deny pets. If pets are banned because of possible allergies to them, then there should also be bans on cigarettes, perfumes and home deodorizing products. If a building allows scents to travel between units, any of these items could be allergens. Consult an engineer, HVAC specialist or an air filtration expert for assistance determining whether allergens from your animal are infiltrating other units and for possible solutions, if needed.

Outside in the common areas is a different story. Unless people are in close quarters with the "offending" pet, there is no reason for objection. If you have a neighbor who is allergic, you should have the courtesy to not bring your pet right up next to them. Let them use the elevators and wait your turn to bring your pet on the elevator. When you really think about it, pets are not the problem. Irresponsible owners/guardians are the problem. It is not the dogs who fail to use a plastic bag or pooper scooper to clean up the poop. It is not the dogs who leave doors and screens open so that barking becomes a problem even in condos with thick concrete walls. It's a problem when a relatively few irresponsible people ruin it for everyone else.

It is such a natural human desire to have a furry companion that every condo has people hiding pets. Why are animal companions so desired? According to cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, studies have shown that patients who suffer heart attacks but own pets are likely to have five times the survival rate of patients who are not pet owners. The simple act of petting an animal is known to cause a person's blood pressure to drop, says Alan Beck, ScD, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond. Research has shown that pets can relieve stress, alleviate loneliness, lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels.

Here are some guidelines (if you're a building manager or property landlord) that have worked other places, to allow animal lovers to live peacefully with their neighbors:

* Create a Pet Application to be signed by unit owners stating they will be liable for any damage caused by their pet(s). The application should include a picture of the pet(s).

* Require that animals must be on a leash or in carriers when taken outside.

* Limit the number of pets per unit to be reasonable for the space. It is actually better to have at least two pets because pets tend to be better behaved when they have company.

* Do not allow dogs with a vicious or aggressive disposition.

* Association management should NOT require de-clawing of cats. Instead, the cat owner should be responsible for any damage.

* Require proof of spay/neuter for animals who have reached 6 months of age.

* Instructions for disposal of pet waste and kitty litter should be clearly posted.

* There should be a designated area for walking dogs. An improvement on this idea is to have stations along the walk with plastic poop bag dispensers.

Provisions like these have worked other places. If you agree that responsible unit owners should be able to have pets, please sign our online petition. If you don't have web access, go to the library, have the librarian help you go to (http://www.petsincondos.org) and then print out a paper copy of the petition to collect signatures.

About the author

from Citizens for Pets in Condos,Inc., a 501-c3 tax exempt private operating foundation dedicated to increasing acceptance of companion animals in condos and other types of CIDs (association-run housing). Read more on our website, www.petsincondos.org. Our motto - "creating a win-win situation for both people & animals"

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