Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
If you believe the absence of a big backyard should prevent people from owning a pet, you may be living in the past according to an Australian pet care organisation, who believes there is no reason for residents of strata developments to be denied the love and affection a four-legged friend can bring.
The Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS) believes it’s time to take a contemporary look at pet ownership, which includes pets living in higher density housing. With Australia having one of the highest levels of pet ownership in the world and around one in four Australian households currently living in flats, units or apartments, PIAS says it’s not surprising to find there’s a strong demand for pet-friendly strata premises.
PIAS recently undertook research to learn more about pet ownership in high-density housing.
“We discovered that although many people want to own a dog or a cat, the vast majority of our survey respondents cited housing limitations as the main reason they didn’t have a pet,” says PIAS Consultant, Susie Willis. “
In fact 61% of non-pet owners in our survey were not allowed to keep dogs and cats where they live. It would seem that although there is a clear demand for pet-friendly housing, there are still many strata developments and landlords that aren’t keen to allow pets.”
One of the key findings from the PIAS research was that those people who do keep dogs and cats in high-density situations do so successfully and responsibly, and report very little difficulty. In fact, dog and cat owners in highly urbanised environments expressed similar levels of satisfaction with their pet-owning experience as those in the general population: 94% for dog owners and 93% for cat owners. “Keeping dogs and cats in units and apartments really can work,” explains Susie.
“Pet owners just need to be very conscious of the need for the appropriate selection, care and management of the pet, whilst developers and owners corporations need to implement sensible policies to help ensure pets are managed correctly.” Pet ownership, however, isn’t always problem free. The most common problem associated with pets in high-density housing was hair-shedding, reported by 27% of owners, followed by vet bills (26%) and, perhaps not surprisingly, noisy dogs (16%.) At the same time, 90% of pet owners reported very little difficulty in having a pet and 48% of owners reported that they did not find it difficult at all.
To help apartment dwellers make informed decisions about pet ownership and management PIAS has developed a new resource – Pets in the City – a non-commercial guide that is available at no cost from www.petsinthecity.net.au
The Pets in the City guide contains a comprehensive range of information on selecting an inner-city pet; downsizing with a pet; dealing with rental and strata issues; caring for a pet with limited or no outdoor space; as well as practical tips to help solve common problems. It also provides information on how our changing lifestyles and living arrangements can work for both pets and people.
Pets in apartments isn’t a new concept – dogs and cats have lived happily in apartments across America and Europe for many years.
“It’s all a matter of Australians adjusting their mind-set,” says Susie.
“The way Australians kept pets a decade or two ago is very different to the way they are kept now. Smaller breeds of dogs are becoming increasingly popular and dogs and cats are spending more time indoors. In fact our research revealed almost a third of all dogs spent virtually all their time indoors.”
It’s important that would-be pet owners carefully consider which breed of dog or cat will best suit their lifestyle. Cats in generally well suited to an apartment lifestyle. People sometimes automatically assume a small dog breed is a good idea for a home with limited space, when in fact many small dogs are extremely energetic and noisy.
In contrast some of the larger dog breeds are quiet, calm, require little exercise and are actually well suited to apartment living. Some dog breeds that are considered to be appropriate for strata living include Australian Terriers, Bichon Frise, Boston Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs, Greyhounds, Poodles, Pugs and Whippets.
Many pet-related complaints concern pets being kept without permission. PIAS research revealed that 11% of pet owners (mainly cat owners) indicated that the landlord or body corporate were unaware they had a pet. A sensible pet-friendly policy can help ensure pets are effectively managed rather than have owners go underground and keep pets a secret.
Implementing a pet-friendly policy does not mean the place will be overrun by dogs and cats that create a nuisance. Allowing one person to own a pet does not necessarily mean allowing everyone to own a pet – pets can be allowed on a case-by case basis.
A Queensland survey on pet-friendly developments found that only around 10% of occupants chose to own dogs. A sensible pet policy might include a requirement for people to apply in writing for permission to keep a pet. It might also include a limit on the number of pets permitted to be kept in each apartment. Pet owners can also be required to sign an agreement detailing how they will manage their pet.
A well managed, pet-friendly policy can also be great for returns. PIAS research indicated that pet owners are prepared to pay more to rent a property where they’re permitted to keep a pet. There also seems to be a growing belief among developers that pet-friendly by-laws can improve the value of a building and create more buyer interest. Many exclusive apartment buildings in Sydney and Melbourne now promote themselves as being pet-friendly.
For more information visit the Pets in the City website – www.petsinthecity.net.au
Disclaimer: The information provided above is a general guide only and not intended as a substitute for legal advice. The company disclaims all responsibility and all liability for any expenses, losses, damages and costs which might be incurred as a result of the information provided by the company in this article.