RSPCA Qld does not support the blanket prohibiting of pets in strata schemes. It is the RSPCA Qld view that the decision to own a pet should rest with the individual as a lot owner or tenant where the pet can be reasonably accommodated and its welfare provided for and where the pet does not create a nuisance for other residents.
Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world with the majority of Australian households owning at least one pet, typically a dog and/or cat in a detached dwelling. However, we have been witnessing in recent years an increase in the number of people being forced to give up their pet when they transition from detached dwellings to strata dwellings, which is increasingly the case with an ageing population where older people are unable to manage their properties. This not only creates emotional distress for the pet owner which has implications for health outcomes, it also places increasing demand on organisations such as RSPCA Qld to house, care for and re-home these pets.
There are a number of misconceptions in the community around the appropriateness of pets in strata schemes. These include:
- pets are not suited to apartment or townhouse living, especially larger dogs;
- allowing pets will create noise issues e.g. dogs will bark all the time;
- certain pets are dangerous e.g. some breeds of dog are more dangerous than others;
- the keeping of pets promotes disease and attracts pests e.g. rodents, cockroaches;
- pets are likely to foul common property areas.
The reality is that issues of noise, danger, disease promotion and fouling of common areas exist with any pet including in free-standing dwellings. Current Council by-laws, and State Animal Management and Animal Welfare laws cover these issues. In particular:
- most commonly owned pets are well suited to apartment living. Size of dog is not necessarily an issue. Larger dogs can be more suited than some smaller dogs due to their low need for stimulation e.g. greyhounds are known as “couch potatoes”. We believe each animal should be assessed on its individual characteristics and not judged on stereotypes. The potential difficulties raised in regard to measuring a dog’s size and weight are of little consequence in regard to a dog’s suitability or welfare in an apartment or townhouse. Reasonable and easily determined conditions such as not allowing a pet to roam or the requirement for muzzling whilst on common property have merit for consideration.
- most pets are not noisy e.g. cats and fish, while the majority of dogs bark infrequently. Where a dog does bark more than might be reasonably expected there are various methods to correct this behaviour that a local vet may recommend including “crating” or referral to an animal behaviour specialist.
- most common pets pose little danger, especially if they are well trained and socialised.
- with proper care and regular veterinary checks pets are no more likely to promote disease than human beings who also have the ability to pass on communicable diseases.
- well trained pets are unlikely to foul common property where they spend very little time while entering and exiting a strata scheme. Where a body corporate allows pets to be taken onto common property for extended periods of time, many schemes have existing by-laws in place in regard to keeping the common property clean. Most owners these days are conscious of picking up and disposing of pet excrement.
The UOAQ would like to thank our friends at RSPCA Qld (in particular Michael Beatty) for this content.