Q&A: Certain Dogs Banned from Co-op

Q Our co-op board issued a list of breeds of dogs they considered “aggressive,” which will no longer be permitted, other than those already grandfathered in. I can’t remember them all, but it must have been close to 30 breeds. They claim they got this list from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC). The residents in our building are sophisticated people, not people who abuse their pets causing them to be “aggressive” and “hostile.”

What happens if a dog, let’s say, nips a resident. Who is responsible: the coop or the dog’s owner? —Serious Dog Lover

A “It is typical for a cooperative’s proprietary lease and/or house rules to contain provisions which require the consent of the board of directors for a pet and/or give the board the right to impose pet guidelines, rules and regulations,” says Eliot H. Zuckerman, partner of the Manhattan-based law firm of Hartman & Craven LLP. “Assuming provisions to that effect are contained in the subject cooperative’s proprietary lease and house rules, then the board’s imposition of the dog policy would have been within the scope of the board’s authority. Boards of directors in New York are entitled to broad discretion under the state’s ‘business judgment rule.’ Since it seems that the board performed at least some investigation so as to establish a reasonable basis for its dog policy, it appears that the board did not abuse its discretion.

“On the other hand, any policy, including a dog policy, can generally be changed by the board as it reasonably deems appropriate. The board may very well consider a change if one or more shareholders (the larger the group, the more persuasive the request) presents clear evidence that one or more of the breeds of dog included on the list should not be prohibited.

“In the event a resident dog bites someone in the building, the owner of the dog would typically be held responsible. The cooperative generally does not have any responsibility for a dog bite, except possibly in the instance where a board is on notice of a dog’s propensity to bite and fails to take reasonable actions to diminish the likelihood of a future biting by that dog in the building.”

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  • I live in a co-op in Allenstown, NH. My 2 foster dogs that were leashed and collared bit an unleashed and uncollared dog that was let out of the owners car with the owner present. My dogs are being blamed for biting and the co op has sent me a complaint letter giving me 10 days (by or on the 30th of this month) to remove the dogs from the co op or i myself will be evicted. The letter also states this is based on allegations and the board of directors has the overall decision on this yet there has not been one made to my knowledge and i myself have not been questioned in regards to the incident. The owner of the unleashed and uncollared dog is the secretary on the board of directors for the co op we live in so it is a conflict of interest. I have emailed the board to be questioned for my own witness statement and have them meet the dogs to assess their behavior to see if they are truly a danger to the community but i have been ignored. What can i do?