Close-Up Living Requires More Attentive Pet Care

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The Humane Society of Utah is concerned over a growing number of complaints from residents of apartment complexes, condominiums, trailer and mobile home parks, town homes, duplexes, and other high-density housing areas concerning the care of, or lack of care for, neighbors’ pets.

These complaints, in the case of apartments and condos, typically stem from owners leaving their dogs, and occasionally cats, on unsheltered and unsupervised patios, balconies and decks for eight to twelve hours a day while their owners are away from home, resulting in bored, anxious animals who can become a nuisance to neighbors. If the animal’s waste is not removed daily, odors and flies can also become an issue.

We also receive complaints concerning animals that are left for long periods indoors inside small crates with no one coming home during the day to allow the animals time outside their crates to take care of their bodily functions and to provide fresh water. Such “crated” dogs may suffer from “separation anxiety” and can cry and howl throughout the day, causing extreme duress to adjoining tenants.

In the case of trailer and mobile home parks, town homes, duplexes and other high-density dwellings, the complaints usually involve animals left unattended for long periods in small kennels, on short leashes, and on longer “tie-outs”. These animals typically knock over their water containers early in the morning, leaving them in the hot summer sun without a cool drink until the owner returns. During the winter the water freeze quickly, again leaving the animal without accessible water until the owner’s return.

If tethered, they may spend the day tangled on swing sets, barbeques, lawnmowers, posts, tables, trees, etc., with scant room to move and unable to reach shade, shelter, food or water, even if it is provided. In addition, nearby residents are annoyed by howling and barking, pet waste, odors and flies, and aggressive behavior.

Even though most high-density housing leases or home-owner agreements restrict or prohibit leaving dogs outside without supervision and prohibit excessive barking and sanitation issues, they are rarely willing to enforce their own rules and regulations, instead advising annoyed neighbors to report these issues to the local animal control shelter or health department for enforcement. In severe cases such failure to abide by lease or HMO agreements can result in eviction or fines.

The Humane Society of Utah strongly encourages pet owners in such developments to find humane alternatives to leaving their pets to fend for themselves for almost half of each work day. Options include pet sitters, doggy day care, leaving the animal with a friend or relative during the day, or having someone check on the animal throughout the day to supply them with attention, exercise, fresh, cool water; and to keep the area sanitary until the owner returns. This applies even more during weekend trips and vacations.

Responsible pet ownership entails more than just leaving a pet on its own for hours without a clean, safe and humane environment.