Likewise, epileptics can get a seizure-response dog, and the physically disabled have mobility-assistance dogs that do things such as pulling wheelchairs, operating light switches, and serving as a "living cane" for sufferers of Parkinson's disease.
What happens if an allowed animal dies, or perhaps goes to live elsewhere after its owners have divorced? Can the now pet-less owner get a replacement? That's currently outside the realm of the law, and a decision left up to each board.
Finally, regarding dogs out in public, the law states that owners have to clean up after their animals (Public Health Law 1310) and have them on a leash no more than six feet long (Section 161.05 of the New York City Health Code), except in such authorized areas as dog runs.
Typical co-op/condo pet policies include requiring proof of city licensing and of up-to-date vaccines, and pets having a collar with the name and phone and apartment numbers of the owner.
Some buildings required a signed and notarized document stating that you understand and agree to the co-op/condo pet rules. They may also require having your pet's photo on file.
Most co-ops and condos limit the number of pets. Some also limit the size, taking their cue from the New York City Housing Authority, which limits pets to 40 pounds when fully grown. Policies may also include fines for pet misbehavior, or a cleaning fee if a dog relieves itself in the common areas or on the sidewalk in front of a building, which city laws require the co-op/condo keep clean. Along these lines, a building may require a pet "security deposit."
In some cases, a building may require that animals be spayed or neutered. The Humane Society of the United States advocates it for pets over six months old, and suggests exceptions be made for pets certified by a vet as being too old or sick for such surgery. In the rare cases of show dogs, which generally aren't sterilized, a reasonable board will make an exception based on proof (and provided you don't breed dogs in your apartment!).
Less commonly, but perfectly legally, buildings may require proof of obedience training, and they can specify "pet only" washing machines and dryers for pet owners, who might have allergy-inducing animal fur and dander on their clothes.
Responsible pet-owners give a haven to fellow living creatures. But like parents who let their children run riot in restaurants, there are, unfortunately, many bad pet owners out there: New York sidewalks are littered with dog feces, and there are dog owners who yell at you if you ask them to leash their pets. If there were no such bad apples, co-op and condo boards wouldn't need to enact stringent policies.
Illustration by Liza Donnelly
Adapted from Habitat June 2007. For the complete article and more, join our Archive >>
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