The therapeutic effect of pets is well known and there is research to prove it. There are studies linking pet ownership to better physical and mental health. Pet owners will endorse the joy their pets bring to their life. Dogs specifically, are known to be effective stress-relievers besides reducing anxiety and loneliness. A child who cares for a dog grows into a secure and active human being. For the elderly, pets are great companions. One thing is for sure – pets are a wonderful example of unconditional love.
Pets are quite like family members. However, with growing apartment complexes, it can be a mixed blessing. On one hand, there are the non-pet-owners who constantly complain and disapprove of activities related to pets, and on the other, there are the pet owners who strive to ensure that their rights are intact. While most apartment buildings manage a balance with the management committee having a proper set of byelaws in place, there are those for whom it is the Holy Grail.
What does the law have to say on this?
The Animal Welfare Board of India has a list of byelaws for pets where it mentions that apartment complexes and their management committees have no right to make laws for pets, nor can they mandate that pet owners must keep their pets leashed. They cannot impose penalties in relation to pets.
The Indian Constitution allows and encourages pets in apartments. Section 11(3) speaks about the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Article 51 A (g) states that it is every citizen’s duty to show compassion towards animals and the environment.
Some important facts that pet owners must know are:
- No one has the right to veto owning pets in an apartment complex
- Pet owners cannot be denied the right to use elevators with their pets
- Pets cannot be banned from parks.
- Pet owners cannot be asked to vacate their apartments
- If there are notices put up forcing people to get rid of their pets, it is illegal. According to Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, this is a punishable offence
That being said, living in a community does come with its responsibilities and by following the appropriate etiquette and being considerate of others, pet owners can live harmoniously with those who don’t.
To begin with, it is a good idea to check with the apartment committee or landlord about whether they have any guidelines. Then,
- Take good care of your pet
- Take responsibility for your pet
- Be considerate and keep pets on leash
- Make sure your pet gets adequate exercise and is fed properly
- Make sure that vaccinations are up to date
- Train your pet. Ensure that the pet does not cause an inconvenience as in incessant barking, messing up common areas or being aggressive
- Clean up after them
- Take precautions about not allowing pets to roam free in common areas both for the pet’s safety as well as apartment residents and visitors
As far as apartment associations are concerned, the management committee can certainly come up with guidelines that help pet owners live peacefully with their pets. Some points may include:
- Designating specific hours when pets can use the park
- Requesting pet owners to take charge of their pets in common areas
- Instructing pet owners to ensure that other residents are not inconvenienced
- Directing pet owners to accompany their pets at all times
- Requesting pet owners to take responsibility for cleaning after their pets besides training their pets to confine themselves to a certain area
- Warning residents and their children not to tease or provoke pets
- Advising pet owners to adhere to the Municipal Sanitary regulations
- Pet owners shall ensure that their pets do not get into a fight with other pets
While we are on the topic of pets what about street dogs? Apartment residents must take care to follow the following simple rules to practice compassion towards animals:
- Avoid chasing or beating them. Cruelty to animals is punishable.
- Remember it is okay to feed them
- Allow them to co-exist in the same community
- Avoid being hostile or aggressive towards animals
How can you use your ADDA to make your apartment complex pet friendly?
Taking care of a pet can be as challenging as bringing up a child. It requires discipline, compassion, love and patience. Some ways to use your ADDA to work together and keep the peace are:
- Conversations are a great place to have discussions and issues you maybe be facing with pets
- Discuss and decide on the timings and areas pets can use via the polling feature
- If you have a pet then you can form groups with people who also have pets and have discussions, share notes, do and don’t s, etc.
Communities are all about harmony and your ADDA can be an excellent tool to help you achieve it.
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