Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pets in Condos and Senior Residences? Yes!

Are you a cat or dog lover? If you are a senior citizen who lives in a condo or a retirement community, do you have the right to own a cat or dog if you want to? Is it possible that you'll face a no-pets-allowed living situation eventually? Even if you live on a farm or in a single-family house now, will you do so forever?

I'm not usually a supporter of "causes," but here is one for which I just signed an on-line petition. I invite you to do the same.

I grew up an a farm with a steady progression of cats and dogs. I loved them all. Since I left home and college and graduate school, I've owened many cats, from Midnight, whom I "shared" with my landladies when I lived in a tiny basement apartment in Morgantown, West Virginia, during my first teaching job, to Lyon (pictured above), who was old and diabetic by the time this picture was taken and died in late 2005. Throughout all those years, I had a friend and companion to comfort me, no matter what went wrong. I couldn't imagine life without a cat.

One of the first questions I asked in 2000 when I was widowed and decided to sell my house to move to a nearby condo was, "Are pets allowed?" I wouldn't have given up Lyon for anything. My husband and I had adopted him from a shelter and owned him--or he owned us--for a long time. I chose a building where the answer was "Yes," and Lyon moved with me. When I reserved an apartment in a senior lifetime care building (The Clare at Watertower, now under construction) I asked the same question. Lyon was still alive then, and I wouldn't have considered moving without him. I was told that pets would be allowed, and should that situation change, I'd probably change my mind about moving there. I don't have a pet now, but I'll have another cat soon.

So what's the problem? None, for me, but I know that many condo buildings, apartment buildings, even trailer parks ban pets. I also know that "companion animals" are very important in the lives of seniors, especially. I know that some long-time pets are euthanized when their owners must move. Is this fair to either the owner or the pet?

There's research to show the importance of pets to seniors. Perhaps pet-haters can't understand, but for a lonely senior, a cat or dog can be a lifesaver, a friend to care for and care about.

From the Citizens for Pets in Condos web site: "Citizens for Pets in Condos, Inc. educates the public on the health benefits of animal companionship and about responsible pet ownership in order to increase acceptance of companion animals in common interest ownership communities. We believe that association rules should concentrate on responsible pet owners, allowing a win-win situation for responsible animal guardians and animals who would otherwise be needlessly euthanazed."

So there's a cause I can support. Go to the organization's web site,, and sign the petition. Read more about the cause. Lyon would thank you if he could!

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne

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