Three months ago, the tenants of Tran Ngan’s apartment block in HCMC’s Thu Duc City met to discuss whether dog and cat ownership should be allowed.
Results show that 76% of tenants agreed to keeping dogs and cats according to rules set by the property management board.
For example, each home can only have two pets maximum, pets must wear collars with name tags and use a muzzle when going outside, and owners must deposit VND5 million ($201.09) per each pet, which will be deducted for each violation.
“This is the solution we came up with after hearing the residents argue over and over again. When this subject was brought up in the apartment complex’s social networking group, dwellers got into heated debates and even said negative things about each other,” said a member of the management board.
Tran Ngan and her corgi are living in an apartment complex in HCMC’s Thu Duc City. Photo courtesy of Ngan
Ngan said most dogs with short noses already have trouble breathing with the muzzle on. It’s even harder for her dog since its nose is longer than others. “Putting a muzzle on is the same as torturing them.”
Unlike Ngan, Ngo Tinh is glad and says that these rules should have been put in place sooner.
Tinh’s neighbor has a dog. He and his wife had a hard time getting their baby to sleep since the dog would bark it awake.
The 38-year-old was also worried that his child would get bitten and get rabies if no one was around and the dog had no muzzle on.
The argument about keeping cats and dogs in Ngan’s neighborhood is something that happens a lot in big urban apartment complexes.
A VnExpress study of about 30 people who live in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City apartments found that 90% said that even though there are rules banning dogs and cats , people still keep them.
This recurring concern has caused tensions between many animal lovers, dwellers and building management boards.
Dr. Truong Hoang Truong, dean of the Department of Urban Studies at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in HCMC, says that the disagreement about keeping dogs and cats in flats is small compared to other problems that people living in apartments face. But if the management board doesn’t handle this concern well, it could turn into a big problem.
He says that these problems are caused by irresponsible pet owners not being aware of how their actions affect other people.
The member of Ngan’s apartment management board who agreed with this idea also said that not all homes know how to keep common areas clean when raising pets. Dog and cat excreta are often left in elevators and on the community campus, which bothers other people who live there. Even though it is not their job, the apartment manager and security guard have to clean up pet excreta.
Huynh Huu Phuong, a member of the management board of an apartment building in Nha Be District, said: “Having a pet in an apartment is annoying because of the smell, the barking, the risk of disease, and the fact that some big dogs are dangerous.”
Aside from the story of consciousness, Truong says that there isn’t much public space in Vietnam and that there are a lot of people living in apartment buildings. Few investors pay attention to how space is set up for dogs and cats, so owners often take their pets to the street early in the morning or late in the afternoon to go to the bathroom, or they walk to the park.
“Sometimes neighbors like pets, but they won’t be happy if they have an effect on the environment,” he said.
A member of the management board of the building where Ngan lives said that the investor did not build any public space or infrastructure for pet households.
“Because there weren’t any restrictions put in place in the beginning, pet owners are feeling angry now that they are suddenly being told what they can and can’t do,” this person said.
Truong doesn’t think it’s a good idea to raise dogs and cats in apartment complexes because it affects the overall cleanliness of the building, where people of all ages live together. Pets that are left unattended can spread disease, bite people if they are not muzzled, and make people feel uncomfortable, especially families with young children.
VnExpress polled 400 people and found that 63% agreed with Truong that pets should not be allowed in flats.
Only 2% think it’s important to let pets live in apartments because it’s a personal right while 35% think it’s fine to have pets, but they must not hurt other people.
Truong said that if pets are allowed, the flats must have a safe management plan and a place for dogs and cats to hang out where they can go to the toilet.
Apartment management boards should put limits on where pets can go so they don’t hurt the environment or put people in danger. Of course, most tenants must agree with these rules.
A man walks his dog in Hang Dau Park, Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
The management board member where Ngan lives suggested that there should be rules about how to keep dogs and cats. He thinks that people would be upset at first, but once they got used to it, they would find it effective and efficient.
As for Phuong in Nha Be District, he says that after the heated debate at the apartment complex, the management board will meet and vote on whether residents can have dogs, etc.
“One of my neighbors told me that she’s old and she only has a dog as a friend. So, she would be sad if she couldn’t keep her dog,'” he said.
If 51% of homeowners agree to letting dogs and cats live there, Phuong and the management board would come up with the appropriate rules to keep everyone happy and safe.
Ngan and her husband will also move out of their current apartment because they don’t like the rules that people with pets have to follow.
“I left the previous apartment that I bought a year ago to rent here because I was allowed to keep pets, but that comfort is gone now,” she lamented.
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