Pets in Community


Earlier this month I posted about the 5 biggies in community. On that list the number one topic is discussing pets in a shared home. What if you do decide that pets are welcome? We all know pets are a big commitment but sometimes we don’t really think about how they will affect the other people in the house. Here are some things to consider before living with someone’s furry friend.

  • Logistics. This refers to the actual day to day rules and requirements of living with a pet. While the pet owner needs to be responsible for all major expenses there may be some shared tasks. For example, a dog may need to be walked but what if the owner is at work all day? Can someone else in the house walk the dog or let him out in the back yard. Should cats be confined to their owner’s bedrooms? If a cat owner goes out of town for a long weekend should the hire a pet sitter or will someone else in the house be willing to clean the litter box and give them new food? These things need to be decided before someone with pets moves into a shared home.
  • Health benefits. Pets are not just burdens, though. There is so much research that describes the benefits of having a pet in the house. The benefits even exist for the housemates if they are willing to accept the pet as part of the household and not just an annoyance. Pets can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and reduce the risk of heart disease. People with pets are generally in a better overall mood than those without them. They can also help in social situations. While the care of the pet will be handled by the primary owner everyone in the house will benefit from these healthy aspects having a companion.
  • Emergency pet plans. Of course owning a pet is not always about the purrs and wags. Pets get sick just like people and it is important to know the emergency pet plan if the owner happens to be out of the house. If the house is being shared by pets and humans alike it is probably a good thing to have emergency plans in place for everyone. Who needs to be called? What vet do they use? What happens if the owner is unavailable?
  • Consider the environment. Not every shared living situation is created equal. A housemate with a very active dog may not do well in a small house with limited outdoor space. Small dogs and cats may inadvertently destroy antique furniture that is kept in a shared space. While this isn’t the animals fault it can create long term animosity. Before accepting a housemate with a pet consider whether or not the situation will be good for everyone involved.

Of course, a shared home isn’t the only concern for pet owners in community. There are dozens of ways in which an animal can be viewed as a nuisance rather than a companion. Will multiple dogs or cats get along? Will your neighbors get upset with barking dogs or cats stalking their bird feeders? What about pets and their poop? A poop in the wrong place can quickly escalate into a contentious situation. In the coming months we will explore more topics surrounding pets in community such as how to work it into the shared agreement and what rules you may wish to consider when it comes to furry friends.

What are your thoughts on pets in a shared home? Answer in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook!

Women For Living in Community