Pet Policy (minus the Cat section)

Great Oak Community 2003-03-03


The policy aims to create a harmonious environment for people, pets, and nature. It addresses various types of pets including dogs and other outdoor pets, as well as concerns around safety, cleanliness, damage, and noise. Pet owners are responsible for their pets' actions and damages. The "Cat Clause" covers cats and is a separate policy.


Issue: Before we move in together Great Oak needs to have a pet policy.

Purpose: to create a community environment where people, pets, and nature can exist harmoniously.

The gist of the issues and concerns raised by GOers:
- noise, sanitation, safety, allergies, potential damage to common land/gardens/sandboxes, preservation of birds/wildlife.
- wanting to have pets, wanting to be around others' pets, wanting pets to be happy.
Feelings about Pets Survey Results from October 2002.
Summary for 22 households on pets question:

- Number of dogs: 6, plus 2 or 3 likely to arrive before we move in or shortly after
- Number of indoor cats: 14, plus 1 likely to arrive before we move in
- Number of indoor/outdoor cats: 3
- Number of other non-caged pets: none


Common House

Animals with fur, feathers, or hair are not permitted in the common house, with the exception of service animals. Guest hosts are responsible for their guest's pets.

As long as other types of animals meet any other community or common house committee guidelines around safety/cleanliness/allergies etc they are permitted in the common house (e.g, fish, frogs, ant farms).

Pros: -Addresses concerns about allergies, damage to common house, safety.
Cons: -Guest hosts must deal with their guest's pets.
Indoor Pets

There are no restrictions on indoor pets within private units, provided their presence does not cause a disturbance to others. Unit owners bear the risk themselves that their pets may damage their units. Unit owners who choose to keep venomous/poisonous pets shall ensure that they are responsibly enclosed, and shall inform the community of what venomous/poisonous pets they have.
-Allows pet owners to live at Great Oak.
-Does not restrict the number of pets community members may have.
-Does not restrict the number of pets community members may have.
Outdoor Pets

1. Dogs

Out of consideration for the safety and comfort of all community members, dogs should either be on a leash under owner supervision when on Great Oak land, or in a fenced-in area.

NOTE: Great Oak needs to have a fence policy as well. The Dogs section of this pet policy will come back for community review within three months if there is no fence policy that allows some kind of fencing for dogs in backyards.

Dog owners are expected to "scoop as they go" when walking their dogs.

Residents shall not bring in dogs with an aggressive history. If a dog bites a human, the police must be notified, and the Washtenaw County Animal Control will decide the immediate next steps (quarantine or potentially putting down the dog).

If a dog bites someone but is not put down by Animal Control, the community can work on the situation on a case by case basis with the dog owner. Community members should be aware that that might mean telling an owner that a dog must be removed from the community.

If a dog has not bitten someone, but exhibits a consistent pattern of aggressive or threatening behavior that residents bring forward to the group as making them feel very uncomfortable, the community can choose to create some kind of review process, where the behaviors and who is involved could be looked at, and solution-seeking can be done. This might include training for the dog, and potentially for residents too. Opportunities will be given for correction of the problem before any serious steps are taken, such as potentially asking a dog to be removed from the community, which is seen as a last resort and would not be done lightly or in haste. Also, we reiterate here our general guideline that if issues can be responsibly worked out among a small group of residents, there is no need to involve the whole community. However when that has been tried and a solution has not been found, then the full group can be involved in the solution seeking.

Dog owners must be responsive to neighbors' requests around noise. For example, if dogs are left in fenced-in yards outside for extended periods of time and neighbors complain about noise the owner will be expected to address the problem.

-Addresses concerns around safety/comfort, feces, and noise.
-Meets state law requirements for leashing. and reporting biting incidents.
-Dogs must be taken off community land to run off leash.
-Dogs that bark a lot will probably need to stay inside much of the time, which may be inconvenient for the owner.

2. Cats

Original cat recommendation was that all cats be indoor only. This was removed and the rest of the policy was approved with the understanding that a new cat policy would be brought forward.

3. Other Animals Held as Outdoor Pets

If other outdoor animals (such as chickens, sheep, goats) are allowed by Scio Township on our site, these pets will either be on a leash or in a fenced-in area at all times. Pet owners must be responsive to neighbor's concerns.
Pros: Addresses safety and/or neighbor issues.

4. Damage and Mess

Any damage or mess caused by a pet shall be the responsibility of the owner.
Pros: Pet owners take responsibility for pet issues.
Cons: Pet owners and/or the community may not always know whose pet caused damage.

5. Spaying/Neutering

Spaying/neutering for all pets is encouraged, as per Humane Society recommendations.
-Prevents unintended pregnancy/lessen pet overpopulation, which is a serious problem in the US.
-Lessens spraying and noise.
Cons: -Can be costly.

6. All outdoor pets are expected to be kept up to date on vaccinations and to wear a collar and tags.

-Meets state law requirements.
-Helps keep the animals (and humans) healthy.
-Makes it clear who animals belong to.
Cons: -Can be costly.

End of Proposals

Additional Information:

1. Great Oak may choose to create a Pet Committee in the future, if it wants to have a smaller group available to collect pet information or to work on pet questions or issues that come up.
2. This pet policy is a starting point for Great Oak. At some point in the future some pieces of this policy may no longer be what we desire as a group, and, following our Revisiting Consensus Decisions guidelines, we may consense to change it.


Pet Policy was discussed at the following community meetings: 1/20/2003, 2/5/2003, 2/17/2003, 3/3/2003 (decision, minus cat clause). Cat Clause ad hoc committee was created 3/3/2003. Cat Clause was discussed 8/6/2003 (decision).

Process Comments:

1 standaside