BY ANDREW WOODHOUSE
People with pet obsessions are often people without friends. In Sydney’s highly dense and ultra-modern inner-city apartments residents are lonelier and more isolated than ever and crave reciprocal affection. Two million people now live in apartments across New South Wales.
Psychologists say companion pets often add meaning to peoples’ lives. Children prefer them as friends rather than their siblings because they are non-judgemental and don’t argue back.
But quite frankly I doubt the affection is always reciprocal. If dogs and cats could talk back I reckon they’d say, “I am not going out in this cold”, or “What’s the luncheon delay?” or “You wear it. I’d not be seen dead in such a costume”.
I’m watching my neighbours closely. Do they talk to pets as if they’re human? Do they disregard others to molly-coddle their moggy? If so, they may be transferring affection to pets.
But pets aren’t just pets, they’re innately animal.
Dogs demand exercise. They can be aggressive, territorial, and frightening to children. They bark, defecate in public, scare native fauna and breed fleas. Their belligerent attitude is like Mars, the god of war. No wonder vulnerable people use them as security.
Cats on the other hand are like Venus, the goddess of beauty. They purr and they preen. They are fussy eaters, assume ownership of things and need pampering. They were even worshipped in ancient Egypt some 4,000 years ago.
However, they too wreak havoc in our cities and towns. Most notably their hunting has devastating effects on native fauna.
New NSW strata apartment laws, on exhibition since July 2015, have now relaxed bans on pets and allow animals in apartments with owners’ corporation permission. Owners’ corporations can still apply additional rules about the number of animals permitted including their height, size, weight and breed and use of common property.
Grant Mifsud, a partner at Archers Strata Professionals, says unit occupiers are increasingly being asked to provide extensive information about their pets for rental properties.
“We’ve seen incidents where aggressive dogs have caused harm to, or intimidated, neighbours, cats have destroyed carpets, and birds have been incredibly noisy and disruptive,” he says.
“Real estate agents and building managers are employing extra caution when screening tenants with pets.”
The NSW Companion Animals Act, sections 12 and 13, requires dogs to be collared and tagged in public and “be under the effective control of some competent person”.
So, if your pooch is off-leash roaming parks and streets you can be fined by Sydney Council’s officious rangers.
However, the barking mad Sydney Council has given over some public parks for dogs to roam free and create havoc; annoying picnickers and concerning mothers with small children. Paid professional dog walkers are free to unleash swathes of dogs for hours into these canine crèches. This is not good management. The council should fine itself for breaching of the Companion Animals Act.
I was shocked when Oscar, a pedigree Maltese Terrier cross was banned by local strata rules.
After all, this breed was friend to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.
Does intellectual pedigree count for anything?
There were 40 days and 40 nights of mourning when Oscar left to stay with relatives temporarily. He’s now back home, fully ensconced.
But perhaps we could have avoided all this by interacting with real people.