While many condominiums allow pets, there are often rules in place that limit the number and size of pets permitted. In cases where there is a size restriction, large dogs are not allowed. Often a rule will specify that a dog must not exceed either a specified height or weight.
In a recent case in British Columbia, Esfahan v. The Owners, Strata Plan BCS 2797, the strata corporation demanded that a unit owner’s golden retriever, Zoey, be permanently removed, as the dog violated the corporation’s size restriction once Zoey outgrew her puppy size. In this case the condominium documents stated that “one small dog or cat is permitted; small being defined as an animal that can comfortably be picked up and carried.”
Not surprisingly, like most pet owners, Zoey’s owner was not going to give her up without a fight and brought the dispute to the Civil Resolution Tribunal. The owner showed the Tribunal videos that demonstrated that both he and his fiancée could comfortably pick up and carry Zoey (although Zoey did squirm when picked up), thus satisfying the size restriction criteria set out in the condo documents. He argued that the size restriction was vague and lacked any objective tangible criteria for determining whether a pet is small and this resulted in selective enforcement of the size restriction.
The corporation provided the Tribunal with breed specific definitions from various organizations, including the American Kennel Club, that stated that a small dog weighs between 7 and 35 pounds and that a golden retriever is classified as a large dog, typically weighing between 55 and 75 pounds.
The Tribunal agreed with the owner that the size restriction was vague and therefore not enforceable. The definition did not specify who must be able to pick up the dog or for how long and how it was to be determined if the dog was being held comfortably. There was also nothing in the wording that indicated that breed standards were to be used in determining if a dog was small.
With the current size restriction having been declared unenforceable, the strata corporation will have to create a new restriction with wording that is more objective and specific. Fortunately however, for Zoey and her owner, Zoey will now be grandfathered and any new size restriction will not apply to her.