A Pennsylvania Association made the news for changing the Association’s ‘Pet Policy.’  The Association’s Bylaws previously allowed each Owner to have two dogs, but the Bylaws were amended so that each Owner can only have one dog.  Currently, Owners in violation are receiving heavy fines.  Also, according to the article, some Owners are refusing to give up a pet.

The reason I wanted to share this Article is so we could learn from this, and try to make sure any newly adopted Rules and Regulations are passed in a manner that limits controversy, so your Association does NOT end up on the nightly news.  

First, any rule regulating the number of pets is going to be controversial just due to the fact that it concerns pets.  I’m sure every Association that allows animals has an Owner that literally thinks his/her pet is a human-family member.  Imagine what would happen if you tried to take that dog away from the Owner?  Even if people within your Association are not that extreme, we also know that people become very attached to their pets, so the Association should review any regulation restricting the number of pets carefully.

While each Association is different, a provision that limits the number of pets an individual Owner can have should probably be adopted as an amendment to the Association’s Declaration, and not as a Rule and Regulations.  However, each Association’s governing documents contains different provisions, and each Association is different; deciding whether this is something that must be done as an amendment to the Declaration is something you should work with your attorney to determine.  Please also see our prior post on steps to amend the Association’s Declaration.

The Association also needs to consider ‘grandfathering’ in current Owners that have multiple pets. For example, if the Association’s Declaration currently stated each Owner is allowed two dogs, but the Association amended its Declaration to state each Owner is only allowed one dog, the Association should consult with its attorney regarding allowing current owners that have two dogs to keep both dogs.

I believe the failure of this Association to grandfather in existing Owners is a big component as to why the Association is in the news. If your Association is considering restricting the number of pets within the Association, please review everything carefully. Otherwise, while you may have good intentions, the restriction could cause strife within your Association, or as they say where I grew up, “That dog don’t hunt.”