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HOA's role in regulating animal waste

You love animals as much as the next person. Like the majority of people in California, you probably even own a dog or cat yourself. The companionship of a pet is something most people place high in importance in their lives, and animals, especially dogs, have a way of winning the affection of even the coldest hearts.

Nevertheless, the one drawback of a pet is cleaning up after it. Even a bird in a cage requires clean papers, and a cat needs its litter scooped frequently. Since many dogs do their business outside, their waste often becomes the subject of disputes among neighbors. If you live in a community governed by a homeowner's association, you may see the topic of dog waste on the agenda of many board meetings.

What to do with dog doo

There is something unsettling about stepping in the mess of someone else's dog while you are walking across your own lawn or playing in the grass with your children. In fact, you may have chosen a home in an HOA community precisely because of its rules regulating pets. If your HOA has restrictions on the size, number and kind of pets residents may own, it is likely there are rules in your Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions about the behavior of those permitted animals. If not, you may have a problem in your neighborhood.

Pet owners who fail to clean up after their animals create an unhealthy situation for everyone. Some of the common issues people deal with when inconsiderate neighbors don't clean up after their dogs include:

  • The spread of disease
  • Violation of the Clean Water Act
  • The attraction of other pets from outside the community
  • The attraction of rodents
  • Difficulty selling properties
  • Residents moving away

While it may seem obvious to you, it is possible that some pet owners in your community simply don't know your HOA conditions for owning dogs. You may suggest that the HOA find ways to remind residents of their duty to keep the community clean, safe and attractive by picking up after their dogs.

Additionally, some communities have taken extra steps to accommodate pet owners while protecting the rights of other residents. For example, your HOA may consider constructing a dog park in a common area or hiring a service to keep the community clean. Your HOA may decide to require DNA testing for all animals so they can match any waste to the offending dog and levy a fine against its owner.

These suggestions may require commitment from the HOA board and residents alike. However, there is always the chance that these steps will not resolve the issue. When neighbors reach an impasse, they may require the help of a legal professional.

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