Apartment Living


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Flat Chat

Dumb animals - dumber owners

If there's one issue that gets Flatchat readers' goat it's pets. Maybe it's because one person's devoted companion animal and surrogate child is another's flea-ridden, noisy, smelly and unhygienic nuisance.

The basic "model" by-laws say that residents can only have pets with the permission of the Owners Corporation or Executive Committee, but they also say that permission can't be unreasonably withheld.

Now, in the case of large, dangerous dogs or male cats that mark their territory with scents of biblical plague intensity, the decision is easy. The offensive pets and their inconsiderate owners can't really argue that rejection is unreasonable.

Buy what about birds, for instance. A friend get constant complaints from a neighbour in an apartment block because his lovebirds are allegedly constantly twittering and chirping. Are they worse than mobile phones? Does the fact that they make a tiny contribution to the dawn chorus really make that much difference? Or is the fact that the neighbour is annoyed enough to get them banned?

Birds are not the only exotic animals to raise eyebrows and, occasionally, hackles in apartment blocks. A former neighbour kept snakes and ferrets in his apartment. The snakes were part of his job - he was a professional snake dancer - but the ferrets were just company. The day his ferret met our cat in the corridor was one to remember. Both animals stared at each other with "What the...!?!" expressions then slowly, but gracefully retreated. Ferrets, I'm told are fastidiously clean and creepily quite - perfect apartment pets, in other words.

The snakes were similarly welcome ... until one of them went missing for a couple of days. Their owner kept it very quiet and no one was any the wiser.

But the dimmest keeper of a dumb animal must be the genius who flooded his balcony and turned it into an open-air fish pond. He didn't make the connection between the wet patches on his lounge-room floor and fact that his overflow drain was blocked until the lights of an apartment downstairs kept shorting out because of water in the ceiling.

Never mind permission for animals, how about an intelligence test for apartment dwellers. Now that would be the cat's pyjamas.

First published SMH May 2007