The new set of guidelines ensure that resident welfare associations are pet friendly, but also lays down rules for pet-owners.

Resident groups cannot ban pets Bengaluru Apartment Federation issues guidelines
news Animal Rights Saturday, December 29, 2018 - 13:47

When 27-year-old Rashmi Singh adopted a 2-year-old Indie stray dog three months ago, neighbours at her apartment on Old Madras Road began harassing her. “My home-owner told me that I should either leave the apartment or abandon my dog. I spoke to him and he agreed to let me keep my pet as long as I did not take him out,” Rashmi says.

However, that wasn’t the end of her woes. Soon, residents of the apartment began harassing Rashmi. She would find notes slid under her door when she arrived from her neighbours, asking her to leave the apartment building or get rid of her dog. “One day a neighbour came and asked me to take the dog to a pound instead of 'torturing' the residents. I decided to move out of there. I found a pet-friendly individual house close by,” Rashmi says.

Fights between pet-owners and apartment associations are common in Bengaluru. Several apartment associations have come up with bye-laws banning pets in the building. In an attempt to put conflicts to rest, the Bengaluru Apartments’ Federation (BAF) has now come up with a new set of guidelines. The guidelines also ensure that pets do not suffer due to the quarrelling among residents.

Speaking to TNM, General Secretary of BAF, Srikanth Narasimhan said, “We have taken inputs from all stakeholders before formulating the guidelines. We have taken into consideration the wellbeing of the animals, the perspective of people who are scared of animals and also animal rights activists.” The new guidelines have clear cut dos and don’ts for both pet owners and apartment associations.

Care for pets, no bias against owners

Over the last few years, several apartment associations are charging anywhere between Rs 500 and Rs 3,000 per month as additional maintenance charges if the tenants are pet-owners. The new guidelines state that associations cannot charge extra maintenance or fees from pet owners as it is discriminatory.

“Do not disallow pets in lifts or other common areas. Collaborate with pet-owners to finalize mutually convenient timings for pets to be walked about. Impose fines, penalties and take action only on pet owners who violate rules and not penalize an entire community of pet-owners, when you find instances of violations by a pet owner,” the new guidelines state.

Apartment owners are encouraged to hold talks with tenants who own pets and come up with amicable solutions. The guidelines also request apartment owners to make pet owners aware about their responsibilities, including keeping the pets on leash in common areas and cleaning up if they poop.

“Educate other residents about the community being animal and pet-friendly and to report any instances of violations to the Managing Committee. Where possible, create designated areas for pet pooping & separate bins for collecting poop,” the guidelines state. It also states that pet-owners cannot be intimidated into giving up or abandoning a pet. Abandoning a pet is illegal as per Section 11 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Being responsible pet-owners

“Always accompany your pets and keep them on leash when you take them out of your home. Take efforts to keep your pets quiet, particularly in the night so that they do not disturb others. To the extent possible, train pets to poop in your home or in designated areas for pet pooping. Always carry newspapers to collect the poop in case the pet poops in a common area,” the guidelines state.

It also advises pet owners to keep their pets away from those who are scared or uncomfortable with pets. It also asserts the need for pet owners to take care of the animals properly and not subject them to cruelty. It is also the responsibility of pet owners to ensure that the animals are on a leash and do not poop in common areas.

“There are so many apartment associations which convince their residents to abandon their pets and this is actually happening in the city. It is better to have a comprehensive set of guidelines where all parties are happy,” says Harini Raghavan, an animal rights activist.

Speaking to TNM animal rights activist Priya Chetty-Rajagopal says that the new bye-laws are not discriminatory and were necessary. “It is impossible to convince someone who hates pets to start liking them all of a sudden. It is also heart-breaking to see tenants being forced to give up pets because of pet ban. What apartment owners should know is that forcing someone to do that is criminal intimidation. However, pet owners must also ensure that their dogs are on a leash when they are in common areas and also to clean up after their pets,” Priya says.

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