Urban areas are full of pet owners whether in developed or developing countries.Although I have never lived in a high rise apartment, i have couple of friends who have shared with me their experiences on how tough it is to own a pet and live in a high rise building.As the popularity of apartment living grows in urban areas, owning a pet is increasingly at risk from regulations that restrict the keeping of animals. It is therefore important to make laws which make it easier for residents to keep pets in an apartment.Growing numbers of pet-friendly apartments are on high demand around the world according to recent data published earlier this year. It is now not uncommon to see advertisements for apartments that include a picture of a fluffy dog. For developers, pet friendly status is often part of the sales strategy and is believed to broaden market appeal.Growing support for pet keeping in high rise building communities reflects the cultural importance of pet ownership. More and more households are having at least one companion animal, with dogs and cats the most common. These animals are more than just pets.Restrictive policies on pets are a real barrier to apartment living. Such rules can force people to consider relinquishing their pets, which can result in euthanasia and be devastating for the owner. Restrictive laws also drastically reduce the available market for people trying to sell an apartment.Pets can be an asset to the whole community. More than just supporting good physical health and wellbeing and acting as a buffer against loneliness, pets have a ripple effect on interactions within neighbourhoods and they help to create a sense of community.My fact finding missions with fellow dog owners who live in apartments shows this. A couple of friends I spoke with described having more social interactions with their neighbours after they got a dog. Dogs makes people recognisable to their neighbours and serve as an ice-breaker, helping people to have easy conversation without the feeling of invading someone else’s privacy or personal space. It is important to remember, though, that the vast majority of dogs are not nuisance barkers.Issues with barking in apartments can be managed in the same way as in detached housing.
This involves talking with the owner of the dog and involving the local authorities if the issue persists.Importantly, apartments also bring another layer of regulation. The same noise by laws that can be used to stop your neck of the wood blaring music all night also apply to pets.In my view, some existing model by laws are unnecessarily restrictive.Some ensures that animals do not have negative impacts on the experience of others living in the apartments, many are self-regarding.Such laws do not regulate a specific behaviour that may have impacts on other residents, such as barking. Instead, these are blanket restrictions that limit residents’ choices regardless of whether these would have impacts on others. Apartment developers should be encouraged to adopt one of the pet friendly by laws. Existing schemes can also be proactive and consider making changes to their by laws to make them more pet friendly.Beyond changes to such regulation, apartment and urban design that is pet friendly is needed so that people can live well with companion animals. Design measures such as good sound proofing, ledges and windows that allow animals to see outside, and pet friendly open spaces in and around apartment buildings are good for the wellbeing of people and animals.People should also support good neighbouring. Several studied have shown that in many high rise building communities neighbours make formal complaints about neighbours rather than dogs barking.Some pet owners claim to be unaware that their pet has been a nuisance to others until they get a letter from the management. This is not only stressful, it also limits the opportunity for people to respond to any issues.Pet keeping is already widespread and brings numerous benefits to individuals and communities. Rather than trying to restrict the presence of pets in one type of housing, it is time to think about how we can live well with our companion animals.As one of those who loves pets, i feel that accomodating pets in high rise buildings shouldn’t be made a hassle for owners.