May 18 2016

Pets and Condos

Did you know that many owners of condos are not allow to own a pet from a bird to a dog because of strata by-laws. I knew there were often restrictions, but was not aware of how many condos actually have a NO pet by-law. Well move may be the easy answer but I have spoke to people who have told me that it can be difficult to find a condo to rent or buy that actually allows pets. Read my following letter to our Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and let me know what you think…

Good Morning,
I am a veterinarian in Abbotsford and yesterday I had a house-call euthanasia appointment for an older clients cat. I will not mention her name as it turns out despite her owning her condo she is not allowed to have a pet because of a strata by-law. She then informed me that one lady moved because the strata did not allow her to have a budgie and in another unit a couple moved in unaware of the by-law and had to get rid of their dog. After losing the dog the lady, who was suffering from dementia quickly deteriorated. On my drive back to the hospital my tech told me that she had a very difficult time finding an apartment to buy as many condos have these by-laws.

I volunteer at ARH with my dog as a therapy dog. I know that both Pets and Friends and St. Johns run therapy dog programs bringing dogs into nursing homes and hospitals because of the health benefits. In the Harvard Medical Schools July 11 2012 issue of Harvard Health Publications wrote

Studies going back to the early 1980s support the idea that dogs—and other pets—have enormous health benefits for people. Pets have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve recovery from heart disease, and even reduce rates of asthma and allergy in children who grow up with a Fido or a Frisky in the house. Pets also improve people’s psychological well-being and self-esteem.

None of this will be news to you I am sure. What I find shocking is that we are working at helping to decrease stress in hospitals and nursing homes and now even taking pets in the work place to help decrease work place stress, but people who own their own condos are not allowed to have a pet which has the health benefits of decrease depression, decrease blood pressure, and increase activity to just name a few. What I find even more upsetting is we have known how important pets are for human health and well being for almost 40 years and yet condo stratas are still preventing owners from benefiting from owning a pets.

I understand that if you jump through hoops and get a doctors note you may be able to bend the rules but I don’t think one should have to bend the rules. I think this should be a right and I do not think a condo strata should be allowed to tell an owner what or who lives in the condo with the owner. Yes they should be able to make rules about picking up after dogs and noise issues – but that is true about pets in the suburbs as well. But preventing from owning I think is an injustice to many people.

I do not know how one changes the amount of power that a strata can have but I think it is something that must be done. I also think that we as veterinarians need to push to make this happen and I think the CVMA along with the CMA needs to speak up. I am happy to do my part to help make this occur as one day I am sure I will be one of these little old ladies in a condo and I will want my cat or my dog living with me. I just do not know how to make it happen.

I hope I can get the CVMA’s support and advice as I really think as we see more high density living, as we already have in Vancouver and are starting to see moving out into the suburbs, such as in Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford, there will be more and more people living in condos and some of those people will and should have pets.

Thank you
Shelley Horvat DVM

So do you have any comments or suggestions??



LifeLearn Admin | Life behind the exam room doors

9 thoughts on “Pets and Condos”

  1. Ann Corner says:

    I absolutely agree with you on this issue. I can’t think of any reason why animals that never leave a condo unit should be banned from the unit. Surely a budgie doesn’t make any more noise than a tv blaring away? and what damage can an indoor cat do to the common areas? And with dogs there are surely solutions to just about every problematic situation. Small dogs can be trained to use pee pads and bigger dogs can wear belly bands if accidents or marking in common areas are an issue. Residents with dogs can help each other if dogs need to be taken outside while the owner is out. Doggy daycares abound. There are ways to deal with people who don’t pick up after their dogs that doesn’t involve banning dogs. Dogs add comfort, exercise and security to the lives of people and people shouldn’t have to do without their long term companions just because they have to move into a condo. I remember the anxiety of a neighbour who had to move to a condo due to mobility issues and had to give up his dog because he couldn’t find one that would take him. Good for you for doing this.

  2. Liza Whiteside says:

    I am totally with you on this. I think that it is truly an injustice. I own the Bosley’s on Whatcom and we have a rescue and the calls I get to surrender cats and dogs, because they can not longer have their pets or moving and cannot take them. It is truly heartbreaking seeing people give up their furbabies. I cry every time. I would love to help with what every we can to help stop stratas from doing this. I cannot even think of how I would feel if I could not have my fur babies with me. Let me know what I can do to help you with this. Liza Whiteside Bosley’s on Whatcom/Heart & Soul Dog & Cat Rescue Society.

    1. fvahadmin says:

      Not sure what we need at this time – but if we need a petition perhaps you could lead the pet stores and I will work on vet clinics to get clients to sign for us to bring it forward. One city official suggested a petition and get 10,000 signature. 20 places 500 signatures -might not be too hard? Anyway not sure if we need that or not yet. I will keep in touch if we need community involvement Thanks!!

  3. Tari Colarocchio says:

    Shelley this is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart as I have experienced this issue firsthand. I bought my first condo twelve years ago and my prime reason for purchasing was because at the time, my mother and I had been told to leave our rental unit that we had lived in for over ten years all because I had brought home a Pomeranian puppy violating the no pet policy. After begging and pleading with the landlord and even providing proof that I had purchased insurance specifically geared to cover any damage incurred by my puppy however implausible that may be, the pleading was to no avail even though the landlord told me at the time that my mother and I were two of the best tenants she had ever had. We were absolutely devastated but It never once crossed our minds to give up our puppy. Instead I went to a mortgage broker the following day and made the decision to purchase a condo that was pet friendly, albeit only one pet weighing less than 22 lbs was allowed according to strata rules. We are still living in that condo though I have since married and my sweet Pom has since passed on. After much soul searching we made the decision two years ago to purchase two puppies. Knowing that I was going to have a fight on my hands with the strata I wrote a long and impassioned letter laying out my reasons for wanting to purchase two puppies and provided arguments to substantiate my claim. I was very fortunate and the strata allowed me to have my puppies however not more than a few months later the rules were again revamped making it clear that only one pet was allowed per condo with no exceptions. Over these past twelve years we have lived with children pounding above our heads loud enough to visibly rock our chandelier. We have been forced to endure screaming kids running up and down the hallways at all hours of the day and night. We have tripped over toys in common areas and narrowly avoided collisions with bicycles. However not once did we ever complain to the strata regarding the children. My husband and I have no children of our own however we love kids and realize that they have the right to live a happy healthy childhood with a decent roof over their heads and their parents should not be restricted in choosing a home because they have kids. With that being said pet owners should not have to give up their pets or be forced to find less than desirable homes just because they chose to share their lives with a pet. The emotional bond that exists between a pet owner and their pet and the joy they bring into our lives is just as strong and deep as that between a parent and a child and thus pet owners deserve the same rights as those afforded to parents with children. Pets are no more noisy nor messy than children and for that matter, some adults. There are ways to regulate common areas and there are rules that can be added to the strata bylaws that force owners to abide by those rules or face a steep penalty. Why restrict owners from the pleasure of owning a pet or pets when really all it takes is for people to sit down and reasonably discuss solutions enabling pet lovers and non pet lovers alike to live together in a mutually respectful manner? I will fight for this right vehemently until the day that renters and owners alike will be afforded the same rights as those who chose not to own pets. Common ground is available and it’s about time we purchased it before more and more pets are euthanized or left homeless all because people cannot open up their hearts and show some common sense and compassion.

    1. fvahadmin says:

      Well Said!!!!

      1. fvahadmin says:

        Oh By the way are you nor grandfathered in? I know when I bought my condo that the no pet rule that was later put in did not apply to me as I already owned before the rule. Now I moved before my Jake and Kye passed – so I dont know what would have happened if I tried to adopted a new pet after they passed.

        1. Tari Colarocchio says:

          HI Shelley! I don’t think they grandfathered us in but rather made an exception to the one pet rule as my argument was pretty solid. I suspect that if God forbid we ever lost of one our girls and tried to replace her with another puppy I would have to fight again to be allowed to have two pets. It is all so ridiculous because as I said in my previous comment what on earth is the difference between having two dogs or cats with a combined weight of less than 20 lbs as opposed to having a 60+ lb child or children overhead jumping around and making noise as children tend to do. The rules are archaic and really need deep discussion in order to make people realize how ridiculous it is to place these kind of restrictions on people who consider their pets to be as much a part of their family as children.

  4. Dalia Tauber says:

    Hi Shell
    I have been involved with dog rescue since 2005
    It is absolutely tragic and totally non intelligent not to allow pets in condos etc
    I would love to meet you in person to discuss how these non productive and anti social laws can be changed

    Cheers and many blessings
    Dalia Tauber

    1. fvahadmin says:

      It would be great to meet up! I need to find out more of what we can do before though. I understand the SPCA has been involved so I thought I would talk to them. As well I have one government official who has shown interest. And somebody on our Facebook page said she took her strata to human rights and won!

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