It’s not unusual for landlords and condo associations to be picky about pets in ways that aren’t always best for the people who love them. Pet limits on species type, their weights and their numbers are standard fare when you live in small-box, close-quarter housing. And we all get that. You can’t exactly expect neighbors to get along when someone wants to run a rescue out of his 800 sf efficiency on the top floor of a highrise.

But consider that sometimes these rules and regs go too far. So much so that they often neglect to consider the pets themselves and, consequently, what’s in everyone’s best interest––human and animal. Because, much like fences, good pets make good neighbors. And you won’t find good pets in abundance where the regulations aren’t geared to the ultimate goal: satisfying the behavioral needs of our companion animals.

I raise this topic on the heels of a recent round of condo association discussions that took place at a friend’s fancy waterfront digs. Based on the actions (or rather, inactions) of neighbors who would allow indiscriminate poopings in public spaces (sans scooping), his condo association voted to limit the number of pets in each unit to just one animal.

Grandfather clauses notwithstanding, this didn’t make my friend happy. His two pets need one another, he claims. Any two future pets would not be immune from this need. His busy schedule (and that of most modernized humans) means that keeping a minimum of two pets is essential to their behavioral well-being. He asserts that basic animal welfare principles back him up:

Pets need company. And it’s unreasonable to expect that owners live as homebodies to meet their pets needs. Not within the context of our culture. Not when the concept of conspecific housing is a basic tenet of animal welfare for so many pack or pride-based species.

In other words, such a limitation is unfair to the animals. Moreover, he rightly contends, the unintended consequences of maintaining solitary pets will make a significant dent to the comfort of the community when it recognizes that separation anxiety, much more common to solitary pets, will likely present a noise problem when pets voice their dismay at their isolation.

I wholly agree with my friend. Especially since it’s clear to me that altering a two pet rule to just one will make very little difference to the stool volume in the area as long as those who would flout condo laws on scooping continue to do so. Sometimes you just can’t regulate neighborliness.

As with so many onerous pet rules in our society, it’s the owners’ behavior that deserves to be individually addressed––especially when blanket rules would adversely affect animal welfare as a whole.