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

Cats: I'm concerned about outdoor cats in our community for 3 main reasons:
- Predation on wildlife (especially birds)
- Health risks associated with cat poop
- Cats scratching / biting small children who approach them.
Dogs: I'm concerned about dogs outside and not on a leash for 3 main reasons:
- No matter how mellow, friendly and well-trained - it's still an unpredictable animal
- Some people are just plain afraid of dogs, and even a friendly dog's approach can be frightening
- Health risks associated with dog poop
I personally like leashes so I am not bounded upon by great danes, etc, also having owners picking up poop...maybe keeping cats who are in heat indoors so they don't whine at you all night.
I feel strongly that cats should be kept indoors because they devastate native songbird populations and other unsuspecting animal neighbors. I realize that some people will be moving to Great Oak with outdoor cats who can't be retrained, so I'd like to have the community investigate all the options for warning birds and other animals that an outdoor cat is prowling. Sunward's Doug Siewert sent out an e-mail a couple of years ago about a warning device more hi-tech than a bell that cats could wear on their collars. Maybe he can let us know how well this worked. Once the current generation of outdoor cats has passed on, I'd like to see all future generations be indoor cats (perhaps this is unrealistic but this is my ideal.)
As for dogs, I think they should be leashed or fenced when near Great Oak houses, but perhaps going off-leash will be an option in some adjacent areas like Saginaw Forest or the Swim Club (?). Some people are afraid of dogs and it's not fair to them to allow dogs to roam uncontrolled.
In short, I'm in favor of pets; I just don't think that owners should allow their pets to behave in ways that are destructive, frightening, or annoying to other people or animals.
I think we'll be one of the laid back households on this issue. we love pets and understand the need to balance their needs with those of the wildlife; probably whatever the more strongly opinioned people work out will be fine with us.
I feel strongly that cats should be kept indoors, as I intend to feed birds in the winter and don't want to feed them just to fatten them up for the benefit of stealthy outdoor cats. However, I recognize that some people will be bringing outdoor cats with them, and I know how hard it is to keep outdoor cats in. In general, I'd like us to have a rule that all cats are kept indoors. However, I would consider grandfathering in any existing outdoor cats, as long as they're belled so the birds have a chance of getting away unmolested.
I think dogs should be leashed, and that dog owners need to pick up after their dogs, but I hope that there will be some flexibility about well-behaved dogs being off-leash in their own yards (oops, 'scuse me, in their "limited common elements.").
I don't have any pets and am not that fond of them. I am hoping our policy will encourage responsible ownership, so they are not in my yard or in the common areas. This is my preference.
We do not have a dog of our own, but it is very important to us to have a dog around to play with and to thump on the side from time to time.
We love pets, except when they poop on your stoop!
I am strongly against having a inside-only pet policy. Inside-only during certain times of the year would probably be okay. Not enthused about having a grandfather clause (although it would obviously be better than a just-inside policy).
I think that our main worry is that our dogs will have enough room to run around. Currently we have a semi-large fenced-in yard, and our dogs can run around off-leash without too much concern for bothering neighbors, etc. Will the community allow fences? Will our dogs be forced to live on a tie-out? They are not necessarily trust worthy off leash (meaning they may run away). However, a dog run area may be a good idea (with the understanding that land mines are removed by the owners of course).
I love dogs, another in my household loves dogs, and another Tolerates dogs (with a capital T) (he likes them all right, but not their saliva). None of us (I think) enjoy the company of cats very much, or at all. My only concerns are: dogs that yap, yap, yap all day and all night; dogs that are allowed to leave turds in their neighbors' yards; cats that leave small dead animals in obvious places; dogs that do the same; dogs that run amuck chasing each other while scaring small children, crushing the fauna, and chasing away all the wildlife. I think dogs in this sort of community need to be well trained and chill.
I love animals but prefer they not use my back yard for their bathroom on a daily basis
Dogs (and outdoor cats) need to not disturb others--no barking, digging, etc. Folks should pick up after their pets. We also need to be good neighbors, so no dogs running wild outside the community. Prefer not having cats/dogs running loose--cats really do a number on birds. No ferrets in the common house.
Id like it to be pet-friendly, but also respecting of others' spaces and the birdees and suchlike. IMHO, outside cats should be grandfathered in, but no new cats should be outside cats. I know it's really hard to force a cat to adjust to being inside-only if they've lived all their life that way, and they tend to sneak out anyway. I think it's important to educate kids on how to treat pets (esp. unfamiliar pets), since I'm sure we're going to be spending time in each others houses, and it's good for kids to understand how to be safe yet friendly to animals. E.g. not pulling tails and the like. Similarly,
it's important for our animals that venture outside to be reasonably well-socialized, or for owners to let folks know if, say, a dog is not a 'touchy-feely' dog.
I'm concerned about any animals that are allowed to roam free, especially cats that hunt birds. It's been very disappointing to see several dead birds (and move our bird feeder) because our neighbors now allow their cats to roam free. The same, of course, is true for "loose" dogs, but most dog owners don't let them roam.
Pets are cool! Seriously, I hope we'll have some way to let dogs stay outside sometimes, somewhere. How about a community dog run?
We don't have any pets, as I'm fairly allergic to them. However, we would like to have dogs and cats at Great Oak, as long as owners keep after their pets.
I believe that the Common House should be animal-free to respect those of us with allergies. This may even be extended to the kid's area. Of course, service animals would not be prohibited.
Owners should clean up after dogs. Annoying overly-territorial yipyipyipyipy dogs are, well, annoying, and need to be discouraged or controlled some way. In my opinion such breeds are a very bad choice for our clustered development. I think it would be a shame if well-behaved, well-trained dogs could not be off-leash if their owners are present. I think people who are nervous around dogs should let the dog owners know who they are so that the dog owners can take appropriate steps to minimize discomfort. No strong feelings about cats, but outdoor cat owners should be willing to work with bird-lovers to minimize the carnage. I hope our policy will not be so rigid that it cannot accommodate the differing personalities of our pets. For example, a policy that assumes all dogs will behave like rabid rottweilers would probably seem a bit silly and restrictive to the owners of a friendly wiener dog.
We don't have any pets but like to visit with dogs/cats, but concerned safety of our young children (bites/scratches), and loud scary barking, and want children to be able to walk around without fear, and without stepping in droppings.
My feelings re: pets and the community is that petowners need to be mindful of others. The old Golden Rule philosophy plus. Our current neighbors answer to their three barking dogs is to turn up their daytime TV louder. When their dogs use the neighbor lawns for a bathroom, they laugh and say its fertilizer. I think whatever my dog does on my little piece of property is my problem. What he does that affects my neighbors is still my problem to take responsibility for. I like the saying, " The rights of your fist end at the end of my nose!" Cats you can't do a lot about - they pretty much do as they see fit and arent much bother that I know of. Since my cat does go outside, I guess if he became a problem to someone for some reason, I would have to put him up for adoption.
I have no pets at this time. I would have a cat or two if I were to have pets again. They would probably be outdoor cats. I like cats and dogs. I'm glad pets are welcome.


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