The pet industry is huge. By one estimate, sales in the U.S. pet industry will reach $96 billion in 2020. Unless you have a strict no-fur policy in your building, you'll face some hairy situations with pets and their owners. Here are a few ways to keep the peace.

Since 56% of U.S. households own pets, there's likely a pooch or guinea pig or hamster or kitty dweller who lives with their human. As an HOA or property manager, coming up with a pet policy or adjusting an existing policy is difficult. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Start by reviewing other pet policies. The humane society has established guidance for developing this type of policy for your residents. You can read them here. Once these are established, be sure and clearly communicate these to all residents. Post them on your website and periodically remind homeowners and renters about their responsibilities as pet owners, violation regulations, and of course poop.
  2. Speaking of poop. Residents must commit to picking up after their pets and violations must be enforced. Pet poop issues have gone Law & Order too. There's a community in Malibu that uses a company called Poo Prints. The company describes itself as, "an effective pet waste management program, matching un-scooped wasted to the canine offender through DNA." All furry resident's DNA is kept on file so that any uns-cooped poop is collected, tested, matched to the owner and a fine is issued. In this community's case, the fine is $500.00. OUCH! Too many violations or a lax commitment to stewardship can cause trouble. A community in Florida is leading a challenge to move a nearby beachfront dog park to an entire new area because too many dog owners aren't picking up after their pets and allowing them to run off leash.
  3. When it comes to service dogs, the rules are different. Review the ADA website for specifics. Be prepared to develop a policy that complies with these rules and takes into consideration Service members, for example, who may use a support animal.
  4. Your amenities or community assets there for all your residents, not just a select few so be sure and establish some guidelines around whether pets are welcome on pool grounds, open space, or party rooms. Consider everything from leashes to cleanup and whether children are around.
  5. Other issues to consider are specific requirements regarding spaying or neutering pets as well as vaccinations and rabies shots.
  6. Support pet owners too. Collect photos of your furry residents so that if Fido or Mo, the cat, gets loose, you can quickly text a photo to all your residents who can help keep an eye out.

Regardless of whether you are developing a new pet policy, changing an existing one, or simply want to reiterate the rules, communicating clearly and often to residents is critical. Use the news and announcements function to share any new information about pet rules.

For tips to help improve resident experience in your community, download our free 6-Step Guide to Providing an Exceptional Resident Experience.