Pet restrictions in community associations can be a very controversial topic. Animal lovers consider dogs (and pets in general) to be members of the family, so any type of restriction that places limitations on an owner’s right to keep his/her pets within the home can be met with serious resistance.
Breed specific restrictions, which are a subset of pet restrictions, are also very controversial. In the context of a Condominium, certain breeds may be restricted based on size/weight and such restrictions may be considered reasonable based on the limited size and close quarters of most Condominiums. However, this article is more focused on breed restrictions that are tied to so-called “dangerous” breeds (e.g. pit bulls).
Pursuant to Arizona law, the Board has an obligation to maintain the common areas safe from known or foreseeable dangers. Proponents of breed restrictions may argue that restricting so-called “dangerous” breeds is consistent with the Board’s obligations to maintain the common areas safe from foreseeable dangers. Opponents of breed restrictions may argue that a rule restricting a dog based solely on breed is arbitrary, discriminatory and/or unreasonable if the specific dog in question has not shown any dangerous or aggressive tendencies.
Arizona law is not entirely settled on this particular issue. However, it is relevant to note that in 2016, the Arizona Legislature weighed in on this issue with regard to a city or county’s ability to restrict/regulate breeds. Pursuant to ARS 9-499.04(C), “A city or town may regulate the control of dogs if the regulation is not specific to any breed.” Although that legislation is not specific to Planned Communities or Condominiums, it should be taken into consideration.
Other possible factors to consider with regard to breed restrictions would be (1) whether to include a grandfather clause, which would permit existing dogs to remain in the community; (2) how to address mixed breeds; and (3) how to determine the exact breed of a particular dog, if the breed is in question.
Regardless of breed, if the Board becomes aware of any aggressive or dangerous dog (or other pet/animal) within the community, I would strongly urge the Board to take action to further investigate and make every effort to maintain the common areas in a reasonably safe manner.
If you have any specific questions regarding breed restrictions, or pet restrictions in general, please do not hesitate to contact our office.