Apartments are the new definition of affordable housing. With the average age of the home buyers going down, apartments and housing societies are the dwellings of the future. In this age of cut throat competition and insane work pressure, our home or apartment is where we search for our lost inner peace. This is where pets in apartments come in.
We hardly have time to socialise after going through eight to nine hours of gruelling work schedule. It leaves us hungry for companionship. Having a (or a few) cats and dogs to come back home to is relieving and wards off the depressing loneliness. Considering the majority of the urban population has started living in apartments, it will be safe to assume that apartment communities and housing societies will see a significant rise in pet owners or pet parents among them.
To ensure your apartment community or housing society does not have a fallout over pets, here are some things both the residents and association members need to know for housing pets in apartment.
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What Does The Law Say?
The law is in favour of pet ownership irrespective of the kind of place the owner stays in. The Resident Welfare Association or the Management Committee must remember that the units are after all privately owned segments and keeping a permitted animal is not against the laws of the country. The Fundamental Duties in the Constitution of India in Section 51(A) makes it a duty of every Indian citizen to respect and have compassion for all life forms. Not allowing pets in an apartment complex or housing society is considered to be a direct violation of the Constitution of India.
Section 11(3) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 further stresses on the importance of being kind to animals. The RWAs and Associations can educate their community members on the principles of the law. To ensure the continuation of a healthy social fabric, RWAs can take action against community members who fail to take care of their animals based on the PCA.
The Animal Welfare Board of India has a clear and detailed record of the legalities involved in keeping pets in apartments. Following are a few excerpts aimed at both residents and RWAs:
- “…pet owners are advised to ensure that their pets are not a source of nuisance to others. In doing so, they may, however, distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable, and lawful and unlawful claims as to their pets being a source of nuisance…”
- “Barking is a natural form of expression for a dog, and must and has to be tolerated in a society. However, incessant barking can disturb neighbours. Hence, pet owners are advised to make every effort to keep their dogs quiet, particularly during night hours.”
- For residents who work with community animals – “…Those who feed street dogs are advised to participate in their sterilisation, and yearly vaccination too, since they win the trust of the dogs through feeding them. They are also advised to provide, or assist animal welfare organisations in providing health care to them.”
- For RWAs – “Please bear in mind that even by obtaining a consensus, or even if the majority of residents and occupiers want it, residents welfare associations & apartment owners associations cannot legally introduce any sort of ban on the keeping of pet dogs.”
Pet Rules in Housing Society & Apartments
Bangalore Apartments’ Federation has come up with a humane set of suggestions to craft pet rules in housing society & communities for keeping pets in apartments. Both the residents and association must remember, sustainable rules have to be remembered and followed by both ends. So what can all involved parties do?
Apartment Management Committee and Pets
- Do not start a tiff by creating bye laws banning pets. It’s illegal.
- Do not craft bye laws that inconvenience pet owners like, disallowing them to use the elevator with their pets. The famous case of Shri. Ajay Madhusudan Marathe vs. New Sarvodaya CHS Ltd. showed pet owners cannot be subjected to discriminatory treatment by the association.
- Ask for vaccination records and sterilisation records of the pets who come in your complex.
- Fix a certain time when dogs or cats can be taken out for walks.
- Make it mandatory for all residents to clean up after their pets.
- Earmark feeding spots and designate a convenient time for residents who may want to feed the community strays. Ensure the designated feeding spot is not near any residential block or common places where children play.
Residents and Pets
The love for your cats or dogs is understandable. However, unbridled passion should not breed unreasonable attitude. A few things must be kept in mind if you wish to have an animal companion.
- Vaccinating your pets is mandatory. For cats, Anti- Rabies and Feligen/TriCat must be renewed every year. Dogs must be vaccinated with Anti-Rabies, DHLPPi, Coronavirus and KC vaccines. Renewal to be done every year.
- Train your pets to attend to nature’s calls in the house. Dogs can be trained to use the bathroom while cats can have dedicated litter trays. Use natural litter substrate and litter scoopers to make your job easier and maintain hygiene.
- Sterilise your pets. Neutering and spaying must be mandatory for pets. It is not only beneficial for your animal companion but also, it is much easier to train them in developing good habits.
- Make sure to be a responsible pet parent. If your pets in apartments stay unsupervised for long hours, ensure they have access to enough food, drinking water and interactive toys to stay entertained in your absence.
- Provide enough exercise. Spend time with them. It will automatically burn their energy and they will be less vocal, while being healthy.
- Always keep your animal companions on leashes. Be mindful of your neighbours’ safety when you take them out.
Residents and Strays
It is commendable to witness individuals taking up the cause of the voiceless. However, everyone should remember the philosophy of co-existence.
- If you are a regular feeder, feed the strays in a designated spot. Make sure it is not near any residential block or children’s play area.
- Clean after feeding. No leftovers should be left once the strays have had their full.
- Tie up with local animal welfare associations to maintain vaccination and sterilisation drives. They keep the animals healthy and sterilisation is a humane method to reduce aggression and overpopulation of the animals in your community.
- Educate your neighbours on animal behaviour and language to help them understand how to deal with strays in your locality.
Adopting pets is perhaps one of the best things any of us can do. With adoption, comes responsibilities. It is the duty of every pet parent to adhere to the guidelines issued by our Constitution and the Municipal Sanitary Regulations to give them a clean and healthy life. A well maintained and well trained pet is often no nuisance to anyone. Management committees and RWAs must maintain the word of the law when drafting their bye laws. Research on existing laws, consult people with experience regarding pets in apartments and devise a humane system of coexistence in your community.
Manaḥ ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛti-sthāni karṣati (All living entities are My part and parcels). Bhagvad Gita 15.7.
Also, read Keeping Pets in Apartment Complex.