Dog-Related Issues in the Association: What’s the Proper Care and Handling?
Who doesn’t love dogs? When they’re barking all day, defecating in common areas, or worse — lots of people. This week’s article provides community association boards and their managers some valuable guidance for handling dog-related issues.
Dogs can get the neighbors’ dander up in numerous ways. “The handling of dog waste is probably the number-one issue,” says Kelly Richardson, principal in Richardson Ober PC, a California law firm known for community association expertise. Owners let their dogs urinate or defecate in common areas and then fail to clean up after.
Ellen Hirsch de Haan, a partner in the Tampa, Fla., law firm Wetherington Hamilton, PA, agrees that dog waste is the top complaint. “The number-two complaint is dogs off the leash, which leads to dogs pooping in neighbors’ yards.”
De Haan says barking also ranks high: “A dog left barking all day, left on a patio or under a tree, or a dog that barks any time anyone walks anywhere near the unit.”
When dog-related issues like these arise, the first step for the board and manager is to review the rules to determine which apply.
Some associations may rely on the catch-all nuisance provision. “I think that applies to pets,” Richardson says. “You don’t want them to unreasonably annoy other owners’ quiet enjoyment of their homes.”
De Haan says the nuisance rule can work in the absence of dog-specific rules, but it’s better to have those specific rules. Associations without such rules should consider adopting some through the usual process.
But don’t go overboard. “One mistake that boards sometimes make is trying to regulate every conceivable way a dog might be a nuisance, and that’s not productive,” Richardson says. “I don’t want to see four pages of dog rules.”
To learn about the proper handling of dog-related issues, How to Handle Owners’ Barking about Dogs.