Pet Owners Can Be Great Neighbors Too

Pet Owners Can Be Great Neighbors Too

Our HOA is filled with pet owners of all kinds.

We love our dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, and the occasional reptile. Generally, we don’t have many pet-related problems.

Pet poo is one of the few consistent HOA issues. Most residents walk their dogs on leashes and use waste bags.  However, there are a few who take advantage of the cul-de-sac or parking lot to let their dogs—and cats, let’s be fair—run free to use everyone’s yards as their own dump stations. These folks are breaking the law.

Pets belong on leashes or in carriages, backpacks, or some other conveyance when allowed off a homeowner’s property. We do not want a cat jumping our back fence to use our child’s sandbox or flower beds as a litter box—nor do we want a dog doing their business in our yard.

Most people can understand poop deposits.  Let’s talk about urine.

Many of us work very hard to maintain beautiful lawns. What some might not realize, is that dog and cat urine can kill grass. Urine contains a variety of nitrogen compounds that will leave ugly yellow spots on your lawn. If you have many furry neighbors using your lawn as a pee pad and you are seeing yellow spots strewn across your front lawn—now you know why.

Ordinances & Policies

Since it can be challenging to confront other homeowners about bad pet behavior, set a good example with your dog/cat. Have your waste bags hanging from the leash for accidents. Ask your vet about feeding your dog/cat supplements that counteract the nitrogen in their urine. To “free-range” dog owners, casually mention that they should pick up after their dogs, use these products, and keep their dog on a leash while walking. Check with your local county for animal control ordinance (for Cobb County, see Sec 10-11).

If your HOA finds dog walkers leaving used waste bags on the ground, rather than dispose of them properly. The next time you’re HOA meets, discuss the option of installing pet waste bins (like this one). And of course, read more about  Cobb County’s pet waste policies, even sign up to pledge you’ll clean up after your pup and get a free pet waste dispenser.

Cat specific

Then, the cat owners. Most cities do not have a leash law for cats. Some city codes require all outdoor cats must be spayed or neutered. This is a challenge for HOAs that do not have pet rules written into their bylaws. If a neighbor refuses to restrain his or her cat from other yards, residents will have to use their own resources for deterrence.

Alley Cat Allies, a champion of low-cost spay and neuter policies and programs, offers these suggestions to modify stray cats’ behavior:

  • To keep cats away from gardens, flower beds, or specific areas of the property, scatter fragrant items that don’t appeal to a cat’s sense of smell, like fresh orange or lemon peels, organic citrus-scented sprays, coffee grounds, vinegar, pipe tobacco, or oil of lavender, lemongrass, citronella, or eucalyptus.
  • Add the herb rue to gardens to keep cats out or sprinkle dried rue over gardens or landscaping.
  • Set chicken wire firmly into the dirt with sharp edges rolled under.
  • Pick up some Cat Scat™ plastic mats to press into the soil. The mats have flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals, but also discourage digging.
  • Cover exposed ground in flower beds with large (and attractive) river rocks to keep cats from digging.
  • Install an ultrasonic animal repellent or a motion-activated water sprinkler like CatStop™ or ScareCrow™.
  • Combat cat urine smell by spraying the area thoroughly with white vinegar or products using natural enzymes, such as Nature’s Miracle®, Fizzion Pet Stain & Odor Remover®, or Simple Solution®.

Revise the Rules

Sometimes the best defense is to rewrite the rules. HOAs without pet rules in their agreements could consider adding the suggestions in HOA Management’s blog post. The tips include:

  • Homeowners must register their pets with the HOA.
  • Enforce waste cleanup.
  • HOA dog barking rules.
  • Keep pets leashed.
  • Establish liability for pet owners.

Finally, make the association’s pet rules clear upfront.  If new residents know the rules before the move-in date, there is less chance of uncomfortable misunderstandings. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of poop!