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Subject: Dogs Off Leash
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BedfordP
(Texas)

Posts:5


04/01/2019 9:02 AM  
Our HOA board is faced with a challenge of dogs being allowed off leash, though we are within a city with a leash law. We are a townhouse community, so dogs are walked regularly. There is a consistent flow of complaints and issues motivating the board to consider some form of action.

I am very interested in other HOA experiences with action taken that has had a measurable impact on the practice.

Thanks in advance!
TimM11


Posts:258


04/01/2019 9:27 AM  
Notify your city's Animal Control department since there's an ordinance prohibiting it. Let them handle it.
AugustinD


Posts:1627


04/01/2019 9:33 AM  
Lots here, including myself, advise informing the complainants to take a photo and contact the city's animal control division. Can and should the HOA supplement this? Maybe. First, do your covenants permit a leash rule? Or is such a rule already present? If such a rule is allowed, then inform members and any renters that, to enforce it, they must photograph the violator and submit a written complaint. If you do not have a boilerplate complaint form for rules violations, create one. Then make sure your HOA offers a hearing et cetera to anyone accused.

Quoting exactly what your governing documents say about leashes (or, say, ensuring the safety of residents) may be helpful. Also, under Texas law, is your community technically a condominium?
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1227


04/01/2019 10:48 AM  
Bedford,

Urge those complaining to take photos, ensure they know who the photos are of; then, they should contact local animal control organization.
SamE2
(New Jersey)

Posts:103


04/01/2019 11:01 AM  
I agree do not let this become a HOA issue tell the people to call the local police. The HOA is not responsible for other law enforcement issues so why be responsible for this one when the city already addresses it?
FredS7
(Arizona)

Posts:904


04/01/2019 11:52 AM  
We did have a problem with off-leash dogs and we found a reminder to all residents to be effective.

Usually off-leash dogs are associated with dog waste, which IS an HOA issue.
BedfordP
(Texas)

Posts:5


04/01/2019 12:25 PM  
Thank you everyone for your suggestions. FredS, I appreciate you relating the action your HOA took that did garner a positive result. Very helpful. And, yes Fred, dog waste is a big cause of complaints. The two issues run parallel as they are both a problem here, and both violations are covered by city ordinances.

The recommendations of complainants taking direct action to report leash violations is very good. We have been advised as an HOA to not try to enforce a city ordinance.

Our covenants do not address dog leashing. And to the question: no, we are not a condominium, we are a Fee-Simple community.

Thanks again everyone. Keep the positive experiences coming.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1227


04/01/2019 1:54 PM  
Bedford,

I believe you need to separate out:
1. Off leash dogs - an issue for animal control
2. Dog waste - a community (HOA) issue
TimM11


Posts:258


04/01/2019 2:10 PM  
Dog waste can potentially also be an ordinance issue depending on what your local laws say. It is where I live.
BedfordP
(Texas)

Posts:5


04/01/2019 2:14 PM  
For us, leaving dog waste behind is an ordinance issue, so we need to handle it under the same constraints as the off-leash issue.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:2959


04/01/2019 2:18 PM  
Is the entirety of your HOA on private property? Mine is and therefore an exception to most of the county's animal control ordinances. The ordinance demands compliance but if an animal is on private property with the permission of the owner it's considered to be "under restraint" whether it's on a leash or not. Therefore, county animal control will do nothing in the subdivision. We have to enforce it because the HOA rules are what defines an off-leash dog "with permission". Animal Control isn't interested in interpreting our Rules & Regulations. We're private property and that's as far as their jurisdiction extends. They do respond to "dangerous animal" reports, but off-leash complaints they could not care less.
BedfordP
(Texas)

Posts:5


04/01/2019 2:25 PM  
Geno,

In our municipality, the leash law extends to public and private property. An animal, cat or dog, is only considered 'under restraint' if in indoors, or behind a fence. Animal control tells us they will respond to an off-leash violation, but past experience leads us to doubt them. Time will tell.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6350


04/01/2019 2:55 PM  
We're a square block urban high rise HOA and our CC&Rs give the HOA the authority to make rules about the common areas. All areas inside our gated premises are common areas. In our original rules are several about dogs:

Must be under the control of someone capable of handling the dog. Must not soil the common areas, which include, of course elevators, lobbies and corridors. Must not get in the raised planters. Must not bark incessantly (our CC&Rs have a noise nuisance clause). May never be locked outside on a balcony. Are not permitted in recreational common ares (pool area; gym, Clubhouse-type lounges.)

I assume, Bedford that your CC&Rs, too, allow you to make rules about the common areas. I'd say follow augustines advice and make some rules make sure violations are confirmed by witnesses or photos. Once you make the rules, publicize them well, and enforce them, your dog-owners' bad behavior will diminish.

Unless your animal control ppl are very effective, you could wait around a loooong time for them to show up.

In our 200+ condos, probably 1/4 have dogs and about 1/3 of them have two dogs. Most are walked frequently.

Animal control's been called in the cases of two dog bites (dogs were on leash) in 10 years. Owners were called to hearing and in neither case did our HOA have the dogs removed or muzzled, which our rules permit.

Who advised you not to try to handle city ordinances? HOAs do it all of the time. We, for example, enforce noise nuisances usually due to noisy partiers on balconies. If they don't quit down when security phones them to "take it inside," the comlaining resident is advised to call the police. Our board, though would still call them to a hearing and fine them.

Two sources of enforcement is a good thing!

BedfordP
(Texas)

Posts:5


04/02/2019 6:34 AM  
Kerry,
Our covenants, restrictions, and bylaws are silent on the subject of common area activity, much less dog control. We have a large common green area in the center of the complex that is where most of the violations occur. To effectively add authority to enforce animal restraint would take a revision to the deed restrictions. A challenge in the State of Texas, but doable. The question is do we want to take on a share of responsibility for enforcement (big share considering the city’s responses so far), and liability for inaction.

Animal Control has been called in on numerous occasions of attack, and while formal complaints have been files in most cases, I don’t think they have physically responded to any of the calls, because they were not on-going at the time of report. If they aren’t going to respond to attack, I am not encouraged that they will respond to an off-leash call.

The advice comes from legal counsel. Advising that our realm is the convents and bylaws under which we operate. Saying the Association cannot (and should not try to) enforce city leash laws.

Yes, two sources of enforcement is a good thing, but two points of responsibility for action raises complications and civil liability in the event of a serious attack. Did we take appropriate action to enforce our rules? On the face of it, no.

More emphatic signage is good and directing offended to report directly may encourage doggers to be more mindful of the law. True, reporting may be whistling in the wind, but the threat of reporting may modify behavior. That is the primary objective.
ND
(PA)

Posts:299


04/02/2019 7:20 AM  

- This is not an HOA issue to deal with in regard to enforcement. Documents don't really permit you to. It's not your realm of responsibility. And if you try to take it on and are slow with action or fail to take action, and something happens, then you, the HOA, and the Board could be liable for action/inaction.

- The best solution in my opinion is to acknowledge the issue/complaints in a round-about way and make it clear to the entire HOA that this is not an issue you have authority over . . . Animal Control is the proper authority. Reports of issues have to go directly from witness to Animal Control. The HOA/HOA Board is not the middle-man either. Similar to a criminal issue having to go directly to the police. Have Animal Control contact info handy and deliver it to anyone who complains of an instance of pets off leash. In making it clear to the HOA that this isn't your issue, I would also actually encourage residents to collect appropriate evidence of pet-related issues and report it immediately to Animal Control. Encouraging residents to do this may simultaneously encourage the irresponsible pet owners to become more responsible.

- The only possibility of the HOA/Board trying to become involved is if a number of instances of an issue pertaining to a specific pet owner have been reported to Animal Control (and appropriate documentation of such is furnished to the HOA), I think you may have grounds to approach the pet owner as creating some sort of hazard w/in the HOA. If your docs indicate that as a violation . . . that may be a viable "rule" to try and enforce in regard to this.
AugustinD


Posts:1627


04/02/2019 7:48 AM  
Bedford, do you want to post your CC&Rs?

Dog bite law is constantly developing, and it would seem against dog owners and against HOAs. I would not automatically trust the HOA attorney. Recently I have seen HOAs where I am hire as their General Counsel attorneys with zero HOA/condominium experience. These attorneys 'research' the law and screw up. It takes a lot of experience with covenants and case law, and not a mere 'plain reading' of same, to give competent legal advice.

I tend to agree with Kerry. I need more information, though.


AugustinD


Posts:1627


04/02/2019 9:12 AM  
Some commentary on Texas HOAs and dog bite liability:

https://www.oharaattorney.com/news/homeowner-association-liability-for-dog-attack/

To me the problem is many board members do not recognize that someone injured will go after the entity, who may have contributed to the injury, with the deepest pockets. Since HOAs typically have insurance, the deep pockets often lie with the HOA.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6350


04/02/2019 9:24 AM  
Having lived in my HOA for 15 years, and having been on the board until recently for 12, rules are effective re: dogs on the common areas.

I'd like to see Bedford's CC&Rs too. Ours make protecting, maintaining & enhancing our common areas a large part of them. What do yours say about your HOA/board's obligations and powers?

Is it possible these would be in Bedford's articles of Incorporation?
RoyalP
(South Carolina)

Posts:770


04/02/2019 11:35 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 04/02/2019 9:24 AM
Having lived in my HOA for 15 years, and having been on the board until recently for 12, rules are effective re: dogs on the common areas.

I'd like to see Bedford's CC&Rs too. Ours make protecting, maintaining & enhancing our common areas a large part of them. What do yours say about your HOA/board's obligations and powers?

Is it possible these would be in Bedford's articles of Incorporation?





NO, said articles refer to forming the HOA's corporate structure.


The CCRs are where any Covenants and/or Restrictions would appear.
RoyalP
(South Carolina)

Posts:770


04/02/2019 11:39 AM  
from the OP:

..... The advice comes from legal counsel. Advising that our realm is the convents and bylaws under which we operate. Saying the Association cannot (and should not try to) enforce city leash laws. .....



Legal advice has ALREADY been sought and RECEIVED.



bs-meter

KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6350


04/02/2019 12:43 PM  
I think the attorney answered the wrong question which was about city leash laws. the equation sho0uld have been the Board resposility to protect and maintain the common areas.

I have, btw, seen some very odd things in HOA's on this site from time to time.
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