|cats and dogs and sociocracy, and a copy of our pet policy||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Jerry Koch-Gonzalez (jerrysociocracyforall.org)|
|Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2021 17:28:35 -0700 (PDT)|
In my opinion, the outdoor cat issue was the most painful one we've had to deal with in our 27-yer history. We switched from consensus to dynamic governance/sociocracy about 8 years ago and only then were we able to resolve the tensions. Not likely we could have resolved it in meetings of the whole community of 40-50 people deciding by consensus. When we shifted to sociocracy, our Community Life Circle took on the responsibility for the pet policy. The 6 or 7 of us in the ComLife Circle surveyed, interviewed, researched and drafted a proposal. We shared that proposal with the whole community, got some feedback, made some minor revisions, and we, the Circle not the whole community, made the decision on the new policy. That was 7 years ago and not a meow since then. We tackled the dog policy and that also worked out without problems until someone brought in a too-lively dog a couple of years ago. We then added an enforceable accountability mechanism to the policy which led to more training of the dog and its owners. These aren't perfect policies but the policies and the process by which we created them have served the community well. If you want to hear more about sociocracy in community, come to the Sociocracy in Community Conference on November 20. More info and the schedule is on the website: https://www.sociocracyforall.org/sociocracy-in-communities-conference-2021 If you are wondering about the policies we adopted, you will find it below. Jerry Koch-Gonzalez Pioneer Valley Cohousing, Massachusetts To talk to me about sociocracy or NVC, go here: https://talktojerry.youcanbook.me Sociocracy: Effective Egalitarian Governance. Check out our website Sociocracy For All <http://sociocracyforall.org/> and join our mailing list <https://www.sociocracyforall.org/newsletter-signup/>. 1. PETS-GENERAL 1. Pets enrich the lives of their human companions and of many non-pet owners as well. Some pet behaviors trigger concerns about safety and comfort for some of the people in the community. With these pet policies we seek to support an environment that welcomes pets and the contributions they bring to the community while minimizing any potential conflict between people with pets and those bothered by behaviors of pets. The aim of this policy is to create clear accountability for pet and human behavior, and support us living together effectively as a community. 2. No pets shall be allowed in common buildings. (By-laws) This does not apply to service animals. [Note: therapy animals are not allowed in common buildings - they are not service animals). Whether pets are allowed in the private offices of 110 Pulpit Hill Road or the private offices of the Annex is up to those who share responsibility for those spaces. Pets are not allowed in the common spaces of the office building or the Annex except under control and in transit to the private offices. Exceptions to this policy may be considered by the Community Life Circle. 3. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to clean up after the pet immediately upon the pet depositing feces within the developed areas of the Condominium, including lawns and pathways.(By-laws) 4. Pet owners assume full responsibility for their pet’s behavior, noise, and damage or droppings. All of us commit to be gracious when giving and receiving information/complaints about pets. Pet owners agree to willingly address concerns about their pet(s) that may be/become an annoyance to their neighbors. 5. When there are complaints about someone’s pet: 1. First informally meet with the pet owner and explain complaints to the owner. Together generate a plan of action to address the concerns including a time to check in on progress. 2. If informal meetings do not generate agreed upon action plans or if the problem persists, ask for help through the Care & Counsel Circle. 3. If the complainant and the pet owner are unable to resolve their differences with the help of the Care & Counsel Circle, then the Community Life Circle may convene a Resolution Group representing a diverse cross section of the community acceptable to the parties in conflict. This group will meet to hear the particulars of the situation and determine how the pet policy should be applied to the given situation. The Resolution Group shall 1) set out the particular solution including actions to be attempted by both parties to alleviate the problem; and 2) establish what level of acceptable behavior (for example, barking) represents the community standard for that situation. The parties involved commit to abiding by the actions set out by the Resolution Group. 4. If the problem continues, Resolution Group is charged with the responsibility to determine any further remedies including fines or removal of the pet from the community. 5. Decisions of the Resolution Group may not be appealed. 6. Only community members may have dogs and/or outdoor cats in the community. Renters who are not associates may not have dogs or outdoor cats in the community. Whole house renters may petition Community Life Circle for an exception to this agreement. If a renter associate or whole house renter wants an outdoor pet, they first need the approval of the unit owner who is ultimately responsible for the actions of all the residents of their unit. Rationale: Outdoor pets are part of the community so we only want outdoor pets that are associated with members of the community with whom we have a relationship. 7. Community members are responsible for ensuring that their visitors with pets follow community pet policies and are ultimately responsible for the behavior of pets brought in by their visitors. 8. A member of the Community Life Circle will have the role of being responsible and responsive on pet issues. That person will receive complaints about potential violations of pet policies, talk to the relevant parties seeking resolution, and bring unresolved issues to Community Life Circle. This person will gather input on pet issues, and that information will be used to evaluate the policy. [currently the pet officer is Jerry] 2. PETS-DOGS SPECIFIC 1. Add-A-DOG PROCESS 1. Any member who does not already have a dog but would like to get one, will go through an “add-a-dog” process. This will involve reading this document, talking with their neighbors, and meeting with at least two members of the Resolution Group (as designated by the Resolution Group) who may also consult with the Pet Officer. The purpose of this is to ensure that any dog owner is conscious of a dog’s impact on the community and our dog history. 2. WHEN THE DOG IS OUT OF THE HOUSE 1. Always on the leash in the community except as described elsewhere in the community pet policies. 2. Owner/companion must clean up all droppings except in the areas not mowed around the garden and play field. 3. Always keep a dog on a ‘short leash’ and under control when approaching others. 4. Can be in a fenced area or on a dog run in lieu of leash IF under the supervision of a designated, responsible person in the house. 5. If a dog begins to bark or cause a problem, someone must be responsible to bring the dog in. 6. Dogs can be off-leash when on the garden side of the road, the owner/companion has the dog in sight at all times the dog is in the mowed areas, and the dog does not chase after children, balls, or cars. Note: if a dog cannot be controlled when off-leash to stay in the designated area, it must be put back on the leash. 7. A dog may be off-leash in the play field, if the owner/companion stays in the field with the dog. People in ongoing play have precedence – dog must be leashed if its presence disturbs or negatively alters people’s activities. The owner/companion must watch carefully to clean up any droppings. 8. A dog may be off-leash in the built environment of the community if it is under voice control, as defined by dog obedience standards: walk at walker’s side at walker's pace, sit when given command, stay when given command, and come to walker from a stay position. Voice control will be determined by the judgment of a testing team appointed by the Community Life Circle. A voice control test protocol will be developed when the first request for this permission is made. A complaint about off-leash dog behavior may be brought to any member of the Community Life Circle and will result in immediate moratorium of the off-leash privilege, which can only be reinstated by judgment of a testing team. The dog companion may request another test at any time.” Rationale: In this paragraph, We are trying to meet needs in two different directions. For dog owners we wanted to support the possibility of voice control. For people concerned about dog behavior we wanted a system that would reassure them that allowing voice control in the built environment would not be done lightly. 9. The dogs of guests and visitors must always be on leash - no exceptions. Rationale: the allowances for dogs off-leash in this policy are based on community connections which we do not have with guests and visitors. 3. BARKING DOGS 1. One of the concerns regarding barking dogs is that it is very difficult to stop dogs from barking altogether and therefore to “ban barking” is to insist on the impossible. We realize this and do not advocate a total barking ban. We do, however, ask dog owners to commit to taking responsibility for their pets’ noise in our closely clustered community. 2. What is the dog owner’s responsibility to the community? Dog owners should try to eliminate certain of their dog’s behaviors and make continuous efforts to reach this goal. For example, barking out an open window or screen porch and howling while home alone. 4. BITING: If a dog bites a person AND it is reported to Town of Amherst Animal Welfare, that dog must be removed from the community immediately. If the dog owner would like the dog to return to the community, the dog owner may request a Resolution Group to assess the situation and make a decision. Rationale: Safety first - biting is a serious issue and a dog that has bitten should be removed from the community while there is discussion or debate about what to do. While the dog owner and those affected by the biting may have different opinions about the seriousness of the issue, we define seriousness by the clear marker of willingness to report the incident. Because removal of a dog is also an action with impact, we open the possibility of a dog’s return to the community public spaces outdoors based on the Resolution Group’s review. 1. TRAINING: Dog owners will take responsibility to train their dogs so they do not negatively impact the community. Community Life will recommend trainers. By training, we mean an intentional program with effective results to deal with behaviors such as: - Jumping, lunging, nipping/barking, chasing, barking at people or other animals (cats, chickens, dogs, etc.) - Noise / sustained barking in public or at home 1. PETS-OUTDOOR CATS 1. BACKGROUND. All of us have things that enrich our lives. For some of us it is gardening, carpentry, cooking, music or pets (cats, for example). Unfortunately, some of the very things that enrich some members’ lives, others might find troublesome. For years we had controversy about cats outside. Some people have wanted to limit or ban cat presence outdoors for various reasons, such as: cats killing birds and other animals, cats triggering dogs to bark, cats pooping in children’s sandboxes, cats causing damage to plantings or screen doors, cats as disease and tick vectors. On the other hand cat owners have wanted to let their cats outside for various reasons, such as: it is too hard to keep cats indoors, to give cats the experience of the outdoors, to keep cats more physically fit, for the enjoyment of cat–human interactions, and for the reduction of rodent population. The reasons for and against outdoor cats are held so strongly that neither no outdoor cats nor unlimited outdoor cats is a viable policy option. We therefore choose the compromise of a limit on the number of outdoor cats as a contribution to a different need: living together as a community. 2. NUMBER LIMIT. There is an upper limit of 5 outdoor cats. Only members may have outdoor cats. There is a limit of one outdoor cat per unit, except as otherwise allowed in this policy. 3. PHOTOS. Cat owners will post photos of cats on the community website with owners’ names so people can contact owners with concerns and appreciations. 4. RESPONSIBILITY. Cat owners assume full responsibility for their outdoor cat’s behavior, noise, damage, and droppings. All of us commit to be gracious when giving and receiving information/complaints about outdoor cats. Cat owners agree to willingly address concerns about their pet(s) that may be/become an annoyance to their neighbors, including participating in conflict resolution processes. Each cat owner agrees to be fully responsible for her/his own outdoor cat and to respond immediately when cat problems cannot be attributed to a particular cat. If the specific cat cannot be identified and the problem requires more time, like repairing a torn screen or replacing a plant, the outdoor cat owners collectively agree to promptly remedy the problem. To remedy any problem, the person who has suffered the damage only needs to inform the cat’s owner or, if the specific cat is not known, any outdoor cat owner. 5. RECOMMENDATION. The community strongly recommends that cats be spayed or neutered, that outdoor cats wear bells, and that cats remain indoors as much as possible, especially during peak bird feeding times. 6. NON-OWNERS’ DISCIPLINE OF CATS. Non-cat owners are invited to discipline outdoor cats when their presence is unwanted. Spray bottles with water are the most effective in chasing a cat from a porch, deck or garden. Cats will avoid areas where they are stunned by water or loud noise, neither of which is harmful. The cat should respond by avoiding the (now) unpleasant area after a couple firm warnings. 7. ADD-A-CAT PROCESS. Any member who does not already have an outdoor cat but would like to get one, will go through an “add-a-cat” process. This will involve reading this document, talking with their neighbors, and meeting with a group of people designated by the Community Life Circle. The purpose of this is to ensure that any new outdoor cat owner is conscious of a cat’s impact on the community and our outdoor cat history. 8. NEW HOME OWNERS WITH ONE OR TWO OUTDOOR CATS. New homeowners may bring their 1 or 2 existing outdoor cats into the community as long as the resulting total number does not exceed 7 outdoor cats. If there are 7 outdoor cats and there are potential buyers with outdoor cats, the Community Life Circle will convene to consider the situation. New owner members will follow the Add-A Cat Process before moving into the community. 9. REPLACE-A-CAT PROCESS. If there are openings for outdoor cats, a member simply notifies Community Life Circle that they want to replace their outdoor cat. A member replacing an outdoor cat need not repeat the Add-A-Cat Process again, since previous outdoor cat owners have already been through the process and are familiar with the history of cat issues here. If a member has two outdoor cats and one of those leaves, it will not be replaced. 10. ISSUES RELATED TO THE TOP LIMIT. If there are more than 5 outdoor cats, then the aim is to bring the number back down to 5 or below through natural attrition. If the limit of 5 outdoor cats is reached and additional members want outdoor cats, then Community Life Circle will start an ordered waiting list. When there are 4 outdoor cats, and more than one member wants an outdoor cat, Community Life Circle may convene the group of members who would like an outdoor cat and help them make a decision or the Community Life Circle may use any other method to resolve the situation. Waiting list order may be one of a number of factors considered in the decision. 11. ACCOUNTABILITY: If a member believes another member is not honoring this policy, first approach them individually. If concerns are not resolved in informal ways, then seek help through the Community Life Circle. 12. DEFINITION OF CAT OWNER. For the purposes of this agreement, cat owner is defined as the adult owner(s) of the unit in which the cat resides, regardless of whether the pet is owned by a child, a partner, relative, etc. Unrelated renters may not have outdoor cats. 13. Current outdoor cats live in Units 3, 7, 27.
cats and dogs and sociocracy, and a copy of our pet policy Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, October 18 2021
Re: cats and dogs and sociocracy, and a copy of our pet policy Richard L Kohlhaas, October 19 2021
- Re: cats and dogs and sociocracy, and a copy of our pet policy Muriel Kranowski, October 19 2021
- Re: cats and dogs and sociocracy, and a copy of our pet policy CJ Q, October 20 2021
- Re: cats and dogs and sociocracy, and a copy of our pet policy Richard L Kohlhaas, October 19 2021
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