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No Pets Allowed...Really?

Wednesday, 23rd September 2015

This is my gorgeous Bernie who is now frollicking around Rainbow Bridge with our ambassador Nike

At Stratalive, we have heard so many stories about people who have been forced to surrender their pets when moving into a strata building. It is inhumane and cruel to both the owner and the pet. That is why we have started the Nike Pet Program in honour of the very gorgeous Nike Coles who passed away this week. Nike was the most loved pooch of Bill Coles who is himself much loved in the strata industry. Stratalive is a strong advocate of allowing pets in apartments. Of course there are exceptions, but as a general rule, pets adjust amazingly well to apartment living. I know only too well from personal experience how my dogs bought joy, not only to me, but to a lot of other people in my building.

I was the first to buy into a in a new building at Rose Bay and the by-laws were not yet in place.  I told the agent that I had a large dog but as I was buying the garden apartment that had a 500sqm garden on title, it was put in the Contract of Sale that I could have my dog.  Sebastian was an Old English Sheepdog and belonged to my gorgeous Mum who had recently passed away.  I wasn't going anywhere unless he came with me.

This apartment was my first.  I had always lived in houses but I fell in love with this apartment and it was perfect for me at the time.  To say I knew nothing about strata or by-laws is an understatement.  I didn't deliberately break any by-laws because when I moved in there were no by-laws to break because I was the only resident for quite a while.  I did things to common property that I didn't even realise was common property and slowly, over time, the block filled with other residents.  By then Sebastian and I were very settled.  The only thing that bothered me was leaving Seb at home after our walk in the mornings when I went to work.  I use to the leave the doors open so he could go out into the garden but I still felt he was lonely because when he was with Mum he was at her side always wherever she went and I knew how much he missed her.  So what did I do?  Headed to the RSPCA and found him a friend.  Not any friend, but one the size of a small horse. I just couldn't walk past this huge giant who was on death row because nobody wanted her.  Her name was Bernie and from the minute she walked in the door, she and Sebastian were tied at the hip.  They never left each other's side.

Looking back on it, my neighbours were absolutely brilliant about me adding another hound to the household without permission.  What transpired was just amazing.  My neighbours, even those who did not really like dogs fell in love with them.  They use to watch them playing in the garden from their balconies and there was always laughter watching them.  One of my elderly neighbours who lived on her own always offered to come in and sit with them during the day so they had company.  They became community pets and everyone in the building owned a little bit of each of them.  They were loved by all. It was special for the people in our building and for the dogs.

My too very large dogs were perfectly suited to strata living.  They had an extended family, they were walked at the park twice a day and they were in a very strong routine which is something that dogs need.  There were keys to our apartment all over the building.  Neighbours popping in to see them during the day, borrowing them as security and taking them to their apartment if there were trades coming around.  They had the best possible life and they made the lives of the people in that building happier and they felt safer.

To create a blanket by-law that does not permit pets is going to reduce the value of your property.  Statistics show that people pay more for apartments in pet-friendly buildings. People who interact with pets are happier and people who own pets are healthier. 

There is no good reason to blanket ban pets.  There are always exceptions and there are some pets that are not suitable to apartment living but most are because the routine of living in an apartment is better than those of their counterparts living in houses.  They generally eat at the same time, play at the same time and go for walks at the same time.  Their owners are healthier and fitter because they have no option but to take their dogs for walk each morning and evening. 

I have had so many calls from owners who are unfairly and unreasonably being asked to get rid of their pets.  When I talk to their Executive Committee, in most cases the committee even admit that the animal does not present a problem but they just want it out because they think somehow the property is being devalued by their presence.  It is exactly the opposite but it takes just a few to put doubt in people's minds and for the by-laws to then be changed as a result.  

I eventually sold that apartment and the gentleman who bought it was in a wheelchair.  Every time he came to see the unit before he bought it, the dogs made such a fuss of him that he wanted them included in the sale.  With Sebastian and Bernie now gone, I have had very similar experiences with strata living with my current dogs.  They have never created a problem and only bought happiness to all those around them.

That is why the Nike Pet Program is offering to help fight for your rights to keep your pets. 

So, you will be hearing a lot more from Nike, our little pet warrior angel,  as we fight the good fight.

By Cindy Martin

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