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Subject: how to enforce pet weight limit
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LaskaS
(Texas)

Posts:98


03/21/2019 12:27 AM  
HI. First let me say, I love animals. I am not against animals.
However.. our condominiums have pet weight restrictions outlined in our rules and regulations.
This was a decision made many years ago based on the desires of the community.
Many potential buyers with small children appreciated that there were not big dogs .

My question is..., In the past year, we have several condominiums that have been newly rented out.( our property was destroyed by harvey, and many longtime owners sold or moved. The condo's have now been renovated and owners are anxious to rent out their units. This has resulted in many many dogs that are way way over the weight limit.
It's become especially noticeable this past two months.

However. there are at least 2 owners who have lived here many years who have dogs that are over the weight limits also.
apparently, no complaints were every made and so no enforcement was ever pursued.

Now the board is getting complaints about the big dogs. and many tenants are not cleaning up after the dogs.

I believe the board can start enforcing the rules, as long as we send out notice that we are going to start enforcing these rules.

I obviously would feel terrible about having an elderly gentleman who has had his dog for 12 years that he has to get rid of his dog./(this is one of the two owners that had a bigger dog, but noone every complained, thus the board was never notified and never took action).. but now we have owners who have rented out their units to tenants who either lied about their dogs size to the owner. Or the new owners..and or tenants were not familiar with the rule. ( needless to say,. the past year has been a nightmare, we had to remove the board because of gross mismanagment and waste of all of our reserves and absolutely no oversight of what was going on)
my question is, now that the new board is getting many complaints about the big dogs.. also.. there are now almost 15 dogs that are almost the double the weight limit or more.
Can the new board send out notification to all owners,, that, based on our exisiting ccr's. and the numerous complaints from other owners,, we are going to actively start enforcing the pet limit restrictions... ,, can we allow exceptions to the enforcement... without it seeming biased to the new owners/tenants who we feel should not get an exemption. they were given copies of our ccr's when the purchased.etc.


anyone have any good ideas??

doing away with the weight limit is not an option.. Many owners have small children and there was an incident a couple of years ago that many still remember..
A dog(at the top limit of what our wieght restrictions are) was on a leash and yanked away from their owner,, the dog ran across the courtyard and attacked another owners new puppy and the puppy ended up dieing.. many owners still remember and are adamantly against these new big dogs.

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8180


03/21/2019 3:59 AM  
I believe this is really an animal control issue not an HOA one. It doesn't matter the size of the dog but the bite. Chihuahua's have more likelihood of biting than a Great Dane. Plus pets are legally looked upon as "property". That is how the court would process any incidents with pets. Animal Control is the best source to deal with pet incidents not HOA members.

Former HOA President
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1227


03/21/2019 5:25 AM  
Melissa,

Given the question, and the purported presence of specific rules against large dogs, the point is not which dogs bite, but the weight of the dog.

Anyone who has had their dog for 12 years has set a standard - if the COA did not enforce their dog limits for 12 years, and they have been many large dogs over the years - probably too late to enforce.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1375


03/21/2019 5:26 AM  

If you are part of the new HOA board of directors with the "old" board having been removed for ineffectiveness, is this issue the biggest you on which you need to focus your attention as you restore operations to normal? The pet weight issue obviously isn't a real problem because the dogs of long-time owners are welcomed in your community w/ new renters' pets being considered the problem. It seems subjective. As such, unless you're really willing to force a long-time pet owner to get rid of a 12 year old dog, etc, I'd make other operational issues w/ your HOA a priority. New HOA boards, and board members, tend to enter service with a high level of exuberance that can actually be as harmful to community operations as the rules violations.

That said - and I don't know if this is possible - but a grandfathering system, including the new renters, might be the best and most non-disruptive course of action. It allows the owners to keep their pets and renters come and go. You will need to "partner" w/ your landlords and hold the landlords accountable (not the renters) for moving in animals over the weight limit. As far as you're concerned, it's the owner's dog and not the renter's dog.

This is a property management issue.




LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:694


03/21/2019 7:11 AM  
You would be fighting a losing battle on dog weight. Why? lets say you enforce dog weight, then you get an tenant or owner that's blind and uses a German Shepard or Golden Retriever as a guide dog. You then enforce the ban on this tenant and it's lights out for the HOA YOU'RE DONE.. Carefully review your governing documents and stick to behavior enforcement i.e. noise, nuisance and poo complaints. Noise and nuisance you can get the help of your local animal control.

Smaller dogs have a higher chance to bite someone than a large breed dog.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1227


03/21/2019 7:47 AM  
Let,

I don't think your example is reasonable - clearly an HOA cannot enforce a weight limit wrt seeing eye dogs or other federally protected types of support dogs.
AugustinD


Posts:1627


03/21/2019 7:52 AM  
Here's what I think has the best chance of passing legal muster and solving the bulk of the problems at the same time:

-- Grandfather in any owner or renter who has had the over-size dog more than five (more? less?) years. But also send the owner a formal letter saying they may not acquire any other dog over the size limit. Require appropriate vaccinations.

-- Require all tenants and new owners to provide a copy of the dog's annual physical exam along with proof of required vaccinations, like Rabies. If you do not require such vaccinations, start doing so.

-- Recognize that some who are disabled have over-sized service dogs that must be allowed under the Fair Housing Act, as long as other reasonable rules are followed. Establish a policy for this disability accommodation, using guides on the net or the HOA's attorney.
RichardP13
(California)

Posts:3590


03/21/2019 8:52 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 03/21/2019 7:52 AM
Here's what I think has the best chance of passing legal muster and solving the bulk of the problems at the same time:

-- Grandfather in any owner or renter who has had the over-size dog more than five (more? less?) years. But also send the owner a formal letter saying they may not acquire any other dog over the size limit. Require appropriate vaccinations.

-- Require all tenants and new owners to provide a copy of the dog's annual physical exam along with proof of required vaccinations, like Rabies. If you do not require such vaccinations, start doing so.

-- Recognize that some who are disabled have over-sized service dogs that must be allowed under the Fair Housing Act, as long as other reasonable rules are followed. Establish a policy for this disability accommodation, using guides on the net or the HOA's attorney.



Exactly who is going to keep track of all that information?

Been there, Done that
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:64


03/21/2019 10:09 AM  
You have mentioned both CCR’s and Rules & Regulations. What exactly do your CCR’s say?

If it’s in your CCR’s, you can grandfather in the dogs that are already there. If it’s only in your Rules & Regulations it may not be enforceable. It’s not in our State. Members would have to vote to add it to the CCR’s.

To not be selective, you would have to weight all the dogs and have weight ins periodically. You would need a fine schedule for violations. Depending on the size of your HOA, this could be monstrous to enforce.

A dog attack as described is best handled by the police or animal control. They have more authority and consequences under those circumstances than an HOA.
Probably best to have your attorney review.

Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
CjC


Posts:179


03/21/2019 11:53 AM  
Posted By LetA on 03/21/2019 7:11 AM
You would be fighting a losing battle on dog weight. Why? lets say you enforce dog weight, then you get an tenant or owner that's blind and uses a German Shepard or Golden Retriever as a guide dog. You then enforce the ban on this tenant and it's lights out for the HOA YOU'RE DONE.. Carefully review your governing documents and stick to behavior enforcement i.e. noise, nuisance and poo complaints. Noise and nuisance you can get the help of your local animal control.

Smaller dogs have a higher chance to bite someone than a large breed dog.




This isn't reasonable since the Law does not view support dogs as "pets". Now everyone will go get theirs certified as "emotional support"
RoyalP
(South Carolina)

Posts:770


03/21/2019 12:36 PM  
bs-meter
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1227


03/21/2019 1:15 PM  
PatJ may have overcomplicated the various processes for enforcement. Many communities are successful at controlling dog size without that level of involvement.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:694


03/21/2019 1:53 PM  
Posted By CjC on 03/21/2019 11:53 AM
Posted By LetA on 03/21/2019 7:11 AM
You would be fighting a losing battle on dog weight. Why? lets say you enforce dog weight, then you get an tenant or owner that's blind and uses a German Shepard or Golden Retriever as a guide dog. You then enforce the ban on this tenant and it's lights out for the HOA YOU'RE DONE.. Carefully review your governing documents and stick to behavior enforcement i.e. noise, nuisance and poo complaints. Noise and nuisance you can get the help of your local animal control.

Smaller dogs have a higher chance to bite someone than a large breed dog.




This isn't reasonable since the Law does not view support dogs as "pets". Now everyone will go get theirs certified as "emotional support"




My point exactly. Go on Amazon and you too can make Cujo an emotional support animal for just $29.99 plus shipping and handling
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:2959


03/21/2019 2:05 PM  
Posted By LaskaS on 03/21/2019 12:27 AM
anyone have any good ideas??

Enforce the rules & regulations or change them.

Posted By LaskaS on 03/21/2019 12:27 AM
A dog(at the top limit of what our wieght restrictions are) was on a leash and yanked away from their owner,, the dog ran across the courtyard and attacked another owners new puppy and the puppy ended up dieing.. many owners still remember and are adamantly against these new big dogs.

That's awful. I think it's an issue for animal control, though. If "dogs must be on a leash" is a rule then "the dog got away from me" is not a valid excuse to evade responsibility.

Posted By GeorgeS21 on 03/21/2019 5:25 AM
Anyone who has had their dog for 12 years has set a standard - if the COA did not enforce their dog limits for 12 years, and they have been many large dogs over the years - probably too late to enforce.

Yep. If the rules have been overlooked for years then it's probably too late to enforce them.

It MIGHT be possible to re-consider the dog rules and then, going forward, enforce them equally. In that case I'd argue that existing dogs that are over the weight limit should be "grandfathered" in, but any new or replacement dogs should abide by the restrictions. We re-wrote our pet rules a couple of years ago and decided not to impose any size or weight restrictions precisely because we didn't want to get involved with measuring tapes and weight scales. Dogs (and other pets) must be on a leash no longer than 6 ft long when outside a residence.

If there was a dog bite incident we'd consider a fine if the dog was unleashed or on a leash longer than 6 ft, but at the end of the day we'd leave it up to the county's animal control department to process any "dangerous dog" complaints. The last thing we want to do is give anyone the idea that the HOA is responsible for "keeping you and your children safe" from dogs or any other kind of animals. Animal Control. Put the number on your refrigerator and call it when necessary.
ND
(PA)

Posts:299


04/01/2019 11:09 AM  
Let me preface this with the fact that I don't agree with trying to restrict dogs by weight. I've seen quite a few small dogs who were more vicious, annoying (volume and temperament), and destructive than some other larger dogs I've seen. IMO, your rule would fail to screen out some dogs that you really don't want in your HOA.

But . . . If you're going to have this sort of rule, you will need to continually track and monitor compliance to it . . . a tedious and painful task.

IMO, you will need to grandfather all existing dogs. A rule can't be ignored by owners and the Board for so long and then start from anywhere other than accepting what currently exists and trying to prevent future occurrences. Who is to say that the family pet which has only been in the HOA for a few months must be returned to the breeder/shelter/pet store, but a dog that has been there 2, 5, 10 years is allowed to stay?

You'd need to document all existing dogs however you see fit. Failure of an owner to provide needed documentation will result in them being in violation of the "new" dog rules and whatever actions will result. Any new resident/pets would have to comply with whatever the "new" rule is (making it known to them that pets do currently exist which do not comply with the rule but have been grandfathered).

Any dog-related issue, other than a dog exceeding your weight limit, should be handled by local authorities or animal control and is not HOA Board responsibility.
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