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The mental health benefits of owning a pet, have been proven by scientific studies. Animals help the owners to cope with depression, anxiety and stress. As per data available with the IIPTF (India International Pet Trade Fair), the population of pets in India has grown from seven million in 2006 to 10 million in 2011. According to Kryon Wisdom Centre, “On an average, six lakh pets are adopted every year. The rate at which pet owners are increasing is astounding and it is imperative that a bridge be created, between housing complexes and owners/ tenants with pets. Most pet owners have to go through discrimination at least once, if not many times in their lives. The issues that they face, are mainly a result of ignorance and phobia on the part of landlords and housing societies and also bad etiquettes by the owners of the pets.” Kryon Wisdom Centre team conducts workshops on canine training, pet boarding day care, pet socialising, etc.
Problems faced by pet owners in housing societies
Pet owners often face difficulties in finding rental properties for accommodation. Societies may have also passed rules barring pets, due to prior bad experiences. “Such problems are faced, especially in old building and societies, where people are conservative and not open to pets,” points out Sakshi Rajoria, a graphic designer and a pet owner from Mumbai. “However, this scenario is changing in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune. Many families have cats and dogs as their pets. So, if one is living on rent with a pet, then, it is better to look out for big societies, with gardens and recreational areas. Currently I am staying in a big society and I have not faced any problem. Landlords, at times, tend to demand for extra security deposit, from tenants who own pets. Pet owners also need to understand that it is their responsibility, to train their pets for their toilet habits. This is the main concern raised by any society – to maintain cleanliness in and around the society. Housing societies cannot take action against tenants who own pets. There is no legal basis that one cannot rent a house if one has pets,” Rajoria elaborates.
Responsibilities of pet owners
Tenants who are pet owners, need to be responsible and should ensure their pets are trained and their poop does not create problems in a complex. “Tenants need to take responsibility, to manage the cleanliness of the premises. The pet should be trained in such a way that it is friendly with children and other members of the society. The pet should also be accompanied by a person, when it is out of the house, to maintain safety,” advises Rajoria.
It is imperative that pet owners prepare themselves for their new role, when getting a pet. The team from Kryon Wisdom Centre offers some suggestions on pet training:
- Owners should ensure that the pet is kept clean and well-groomed for hygienic purposes.
- It is important to start training one’s pet from an early age (one-and-a-half months and above). Correct training helps avoid accidents, injuries, destruction of furniture, biting and noise issues.
- Landlords or housing societies should get into a signed agreement that the tenant will abide by the housing societies’ standards for hygiene and cleanliness, so that other residents are not inconvenienced.
- In the pet’s owners work long hours, rather than leaving their pet at home, they should look at good pet day-care options.
A well-trained and obedient pet, not only ensures a safe environment, but also helps change perceptions and mindsets of those who are not fond or familiar with pets.
Housing society rules vis-à-vis pets
No housing society can stop a tenant from keeping pets. “When members keep pets, such as birds, fish or cats, it does not cause much disturbance. However, with dogs, the owner has to be more responsible, as not all people may love dogs. So, it is important for the owner to control the pet and keep it on a leash, especially if it is a ferocious breed of dog,” says Sudarshan Dhuru, president of Raheja Residency Apartment Owners’ Apex Body, Bengaluru. “In the last few years, we have had a few minor complaints related to pets and they were solved amicably. It is important that the pet owner and neighbours communicate and sort out issues courteously,” concludes Dhuru.