Takoma Village Cohousing Pet Policy
Consensus acheived 19 Sep 2010 with two stand asides.
Purpose: To create a community environment where people, pets, and nature can live in harmony.
Goal: To balance the desires and concerns of pets, pet owners, and other residents.
As a community we respect the love residents feel for pets, their desire to be around pets, and their wishes for pets to be happy, healthy, and safe. We also respect the concerns of residents about pet behavior and noise; sanitation, safety, and allergies; and damage to landscaping, personal property, and birds and other wildlife.
Note on Language: To simplify language, this policy uses “owner” to refer to anyone with a pet or responsible for a pet at a given time. While this policy refers to “residents,” it applies to both residents and guests. “Common property” in this policy encompasses all outdoor areas, including backyards, corridors, and stairways. Service animals are allowed in the Common House and guest rooms, but their owners should follow the other provisions on pets.
Pets are not permitted in the common house, including the guest rooms. Owners who are with pets should use the outside stairs to get to and from units on the corridors and units that open into the common house. Owners with pets who must use the elevator due to personal or pet disabilities should use the nearest exit.
Pets kept indoors in private units are welcome provided their behavior does not disturb others.
Out of consideration for the safety and health of all residents and other pets, and consistent with D.C. law, dogs on TVC common property should be on leashes or under the immediate control of a person close to them and capable of physically restraining them. As much as possible, dogs should be taken off common property, especially the green, to urinate or defecate. Owners who need an accommodation should check with the Gardening Pod about appropriate on-site places for this purpose. Owners must clean up after their dogs.
Since even a domesticated cat is potentially a predator of birds and other small animals, and allergies to cats can affect people in outdoor as well as indoor areas, outdoor cats, with the exception of those in the community on adoption of this policy, will not be allowed on TVC common property. Owners may allow any cats to go outdoors on a leash, and must clean up after them. Residents should not feed outdoor cats from the neighborhood except briefly to trap them.
Resolution of Problems and the Pet Pod
The Community Team will form a Pet Pod composed of residents interested in living in harmony with pets in cohousing. The pod will mediate when residents have not been able to resolve an issue related to pets, and will organize training as needed for residents, both adults and children, about how to care for and interact with pets safely.
Residents who feel that a pet’s behavior is problematic should discuss the issue with the owner and attempt to reach a solution. Pet owners must be responsive to complaints about the behavior of their pets and attempt to resolve them. If a resolution cannot be reached, either party may ask the Pet Pod for help.
Residents may not have pets at TVC who have an aggressive history. If a pet bites a human or another animal, or shows a pattern of aggressive or threatening behavior, the matter should be referred to the Pet Pod. The pod will seek solutions such as training for the pet or owner, and in extreme or persistent cases will contact D.C. Animal Control or ask that the pet be removed from the community.
Guests and Potential Residents with Pets
Residents are responsible for informing their guests about the Pet Policy and for ensuring that the guests and their pets follow this policy. Residents who sell or lease their units should inform potential new residents about the policy as early in the process as possible. The policy should be explained in community orientations and included in resale packets.
D.C. Requirements on Pets
D.C. Code § 8-1801 provides that only the following animals may be kept as a household pet: domestic dogs, domestic cats, domesticated rodents and rabbits, captive-bred species of common cage birds, nonpoisonous snakes, fish, turtles, and racing pigeons (when kept in compliance with permit requirements).
D.C. law also requires that:
- owners not allow animals to go at large (except in dog parks)—at large means off the owner’s premises and neither leashed nor under the immediate control of a person capable of physically restraining it,
- dogs (but not cats) that go outdoors be properly licensed with the D.C. Department of Health,
- outdoor pets wear a collar and tags, and
- cats and dogs be vaccinated against rabies and distemper by 4 months of age, and vaccinations be kept current.
Sheffy Gordon stands aside: he is not sure that TVCHA’s current interpretation of DC Law is correct regarding letting pets go free on condo property. Except for potential DC law conflicts, it was his understanding that there were no major community objects to previous pet policy drafts regarding dog use in the southeast corner.
Dennis Cannon stands aside: he does not want to accept the Pet Policy as worded because he believes this prevents him from going to the Southeast Corner with Teddy to let him run free. He does not, specifically, have the ability to immediately grab his dog (an action described as necessary by the DC Animal Control officer) in order to control the dog.
Relevant TVC-Members Messages: #24467 contains text of the policy and a list of outdoor cats. #24473 contains clarification that no more outdoor cats can be declared. #24774 contains the minutes of the Membership Meeting.