A problem with dog poop in your HOA can be unpleasant and difficult to overcome, especially if you’re dealing with pet owners who have limited accountability. As a board member, it’s important to establish rules for proper dog waste removal. Creativity also comes to play as you think of ways to encourage residents to comply with disposal regulations. If you’re dealing with dog poop in your HOA, here’s how to combat the problem.
Why Is Dog Poop in Your HOA a Problem?
It’s easy to understand why uncollected dog waste is a problem. If you’ve ever stepped on dog poop or had your tires run across it, you understand the inconvenience it causes. Apart from that, it’s a matter of hygiene and keeping your community clean.
Dog waste actually poses a health risk to your community. Dog poop can transmit bacteria, viruses, and parasites to humans and other animals. You can be infected with salmonella, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and toxoplasma gondii, among others.
Uncollected dog poop in your HOA can be carried into waterways and contaminate our water supply. Ingesting contaminated water can lead to sickness and other diseases. This can involve your HOA in an unwanted conflict with the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the Clean Air Act, failure to keep the property clean can lead to fines that will affect both the HOA and the individual residents — whether they keep dogs or not.
Dog waste also attracts rodents and other unwanted animals, which can accelerate the spread of diseases in your community. The unsightliness of the problem can also cause issues with selling properties and retaining residents.
To prevent these risks, the board should find a way to eliminate uncollected dog poop in your HOA.
How to Deal with Dog Poop in Your HOA
Many associations struggle with HOA dog waste compliance. It can be incredibly difficult to enforce HOA dog poop rules and regulations. However, there are several steps you can take to effectively combat this problem.
1. Establish an HOA Pet Policy
Regulating the ownership of pets can be difficult. A lot of people consider their pets as part of the family, so having restrictions can evoke strong responses from your homeowners.
However, given the dangers of uncollected dog poop, you need to establish clear and simple guidelines in your HOA pet policy. Outline the responsibilities of pet owners, including the proper disposal of dog poop, and indicate fines and consequences that will result from their non-compliance.
Most associations already have a pet policy in their bylaws. If you have no clear-cut provisions yet, the board can meet and propose HOA dog rules for the community. The HOA must also outline appropriate measures to take to deal with problems such as uncollected dog poop.
2. Publicly Address the Issue
Not all homeowners are aware of your HOA pet policy. Addressing the issue publicly helps educate these residents about the rules and regulations surrounding proper pet clean-up. You can inform them about the importance of cleaning up after their pets and the reasons for doing so.
You can make an announcement during a board meeting, publish an official statement on your newsletter, or launch a community forum. The important part is that you’re able to bring awareness to the issue.
3. Send a Dog Poop Letter to Residents
If you know which residents are responsible for uncollected dog poop, HOA management can send them a formal letter. A gentle reminder for their first offense can encourage them to adjust their behavior. However, if you’re dealing with serial offenders, you might want to include possible consequences, such as fines, for their non-compliance.
4. Place Reminders in Your Community
Another way to reinforce your HOA dog poop rules is to place reminders in your community. Place posters, flyers, or permanent sounds around common areas. Be sure to include details about fines and other consequences. Sometimes, this can be enough to encourage pet owners to comply with HOA’s pet rules and regulations.
5. Set Up Dog Waste Stations
Set up dog waste stations in areas where you see a lot of uncollected dog poop. Have designated waste bins where residents can dispose of their pet’s waste. Have plastic bags or scoopers readily available, as well. The goal is to make it as easy and convenient for the pet owners as possible. Hopefully, this will encourage them to clean up after their pets.
6. Hire a Clean-Up Service
Hire a professional cleaning service if you want to properly dispose of all uncollected dog poop in your community. You can hire a cleaning company, or assign your current maintenance staff to monitor areas where there is a lot of uncollected animal waste.
Sometimes, these excrements can be from wild animals that manage to enter your property.
If a large part of your community has pets, this will be a reasonable expense for the association. This may also be a necessary expense if you’re already experiencing trouble with the EPA or unhappy residents.
7. Build a Dog Park
Some communities find that it is helpful to set aside a special area for pets. You can build pet-friendly amenities such as a dog park for a reasonable price. Pet owners can bring their dogs to play and do their business in the fenced area. The presence of other dog lovers can also motivate pet owners to practice proper dog waste disposal. Just make sure to include a waste station with trash cans and plastic bags for easy doggy pickup.
8. Implement DNA Testing
If your continued efforts are failing, and residents still refuse to comply, it may be time to implement DNA testing in your HOA. Under this system, animals are required to be registered and their DNA is stored. Samples from uncollected waste will be sent for testing.
When the sample is matched to the dog, the resident will receive an official warning and charged the necessary fines.
Not everyone will agree to this because it’s too costly. Then again, if residents are fighting over it and the dispute should be settled with proof or evidence, DNA testing will of great help.
9. Enforce “No Pet Access” Areas
For extreme cases, the HOA might be forced to set boundaries. You can restrict pet access in certain areas such as the playground, swimming pool, or garden. Uncollected dog poop in these areas can be very dangerous, especially since these are the areas that children frequent.
If you decide to enforce “no pet access” areas, remember that service animals are exempt from such restrictions. However, residents with service animals are still required to follow proper waste disposal rules. They can also be liable if their service animal damages community property.
Dealing With Dog Poop Problems in Your HOA
The problem of uncollected dog poop in your HOA is not one to be ignored. If your HOA is still experiencing trouble because of pet waste, it may be time to step up your game. You can always consult your HOA management company about this issue. The board can work with an HOA manager to enforce regulations outlined in the community’s pet policy, as well as additional measures that will ensure proper waste disposal.