by Mike Shytle
An apartment community in California’s Orange County decided to change its approach to pets. The property, located in Santa Ana, rescinded breed, weight and other restrictions. Pet limits per household were raised, as well.
Pet owners were initially joyous, and this seemed to be a win-win measure for the community and residents alike.
A few weeks into the transition, mild chaos was beginning to ensue. The pet park was overloaded, and it wasn’t clear if all the pets even belonged to those who lived at the community. Pet waste was more frequently found in the courtyards and common areas, leading to numerous resident complaints. When maintenance techs entered homes on service calls, they were often surprised by the number of pets in the unit. Whereas they might have been expecting one, sometimes three were present.
The lesson to be learned was clear. While reducing restrictions and offering an exceedingly pet-friendly atmosphere is a commendable undertaking, it must be done responsibly to achieve the desired outcome.
Here are a few tips to create not only a pet-friendly atmosphere, but a pet-responsible community, as well:
Properly track that growing pet population
You’re allowing more pets of all breeds and sizes, which is great. But if it’s done with too lax of an approach, residents will believe they can simply add pets to their home without as much as notifying the community. Keeping precise tabs on the number of pets in each home is crucial. For one, unreported pets subtract from the revenue stream in that any pet rent or pet fees cannot be collected. More alarming is that unreported pets create a liability risk if an onsite incident occurs.
To combat this possibility, communities can utilize tech to ensure all residents formally acknowledge the requirement to report any existing pets—including any they subsequently adopt, foster, pet-sit or have as a visitor during their residency. While properly tracking pets encourages accountability and provides the community with an accurate picture of the pet population, it can be a lifesaver as well. In an emergency incident such as a fire, responders will know how many pets need to be rescued from a home.
Lay waste to pet waste
Welcoming more pets also means pet waste incidents will become more frequent. Unfortunately, resident compliance in picking up after their pets is never guaranteed, but properties can take steps to make it much more likely to happen. Most notably, pet waste stations should be strategically placed throughout the community and regularly stocked with bags. Community teams can send out regular reminders about responsible habits, as well. Properties that continue to struggle with compliance in this area can consider adopting a pet DNA platform, which will identify the pet that produced any leftover waste.
Keep Pet Vaxes on Track
Pet owners should be diligent in keeping pet vaccinations current. But just as they can forget to fill their own prescriptions, they can let these timelines lapse. Property teams can assist by keeping a digital database of all pets at the property that, among other data, includes their vaccination records. This enables teams to alert residents when their pets are approaching the due date for updated shots and refer them to local veterinarians.
Partnerships with local pet agencies
In addition to partnering with local vets to expedite the vaccination process and promote good health, property teams can partner with other pet-centric services. Whether it’s pet groomers, dog walkers, adoption agencies or local concierge-type services, a partnership with these agencies helps promote the pet-responsible vibe of the community.
Pet Park as a Primary Amenity
Just as renters can utilize resident events to socialize and alleviate stress, dogs and other pets require the resources to expel pent-up energy—perhaps even more so. While all pet amenities are welcome and some communities have the budget to go all out, the most crucial is a pet park with shade. This provides exercise opportunities, an escape from the elements and helps reduce disruptive behaviors caused by lack of activity. A pet park, which can be reasonably added on nearly any budget, is a must-have. Everything else, such as pet-wash stations, obstacles courses and pet photo booths, qualifies as a bonus item.
Creating a pet-friendly community isn’t as easy as simply reducing restrictions and allowing a free-for-all atmosphere. A measured approach is required, and the suggestions above will help ensure that properties are not only pet-friendly, but pet-responsible, as well.