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SECTION THREE – A Place for All

Over two thirds of Australian households have a pet, with many considered to be important members of the family. The extent to which communities include pets and their owners is therefore an issue that affects a substantial slice of the population. In Australia, pubs, cafes and apartments are still viewed as primarily ‘people only’ zones, yet Europe and the US provide countless examples where pets are welcomed in such venues. However the scattered examples that do occur within Australia suggest that the benefits of embracing pets within the community far outweigh the surrounding tensions and concerns.

A Place For Pets In Housing

Traditional patterns of Australian housing are changing. The single house on a quarter acre block is not only less common, but less sustainable. Renting is increasingly becoming the only affordable option for many, while longer life expectancy and declining fertility rates have led to more people living alone and more childless couples.(46)

This social phenomenon is producing an increased community desire for residential options that allow for companion animals. To date, public housing acts, body corporate documents and tenancy agreements have often defaulted to a blanket “no pet” rule, usually determined well before full consideration is given to the options and opportunities of pet friendly housing.

The case studies relating to pet friendly accommodation, retirement communities and vouching systems for renters highlight some of the win-win accommodation solutions for people with pets.

A Place For Pets In Our Socialising

Places where people can meet informally to chat and socialise contribute greatly to community vitality and sense of community. As noted by

Oldenburg47 without such places, the urban area fails to nourish the kinds of relationships and the diversity of human contact that are the essence of the city. Deprived of these settings, people remain lonely within their crowds. In the UK, the presence of dogs in ‘third places’ (a term coined by Oldenburg) such as pubs and cafes is commonplace. While a number of pet-friendly places where people can eat and drink are beginning to emerge in Australia, they are few and far between, a somewhat ironic factor given our alfresco, pet-friendly climate.

As highlighted by several of the case studies, pets can add to the social ambience and conviviality of cafes and pubs and be good for business in the process. Neither do they have to take an ‘all or nothing’ approach. The allocation of outdoor areas or the addition of ‘pet friendly’ nights can help to address the needs of various patrons.

A Place For Pets At Work

In Australia the dog on the back of the tradesman’s ute is the most iconic form of pets in the workplace, but other less visible examples include the nursing home with its visiting cat, the hairdressing salon with the sleeping dog in the corner, and the garden nursery with its wandering parrot. While not always possible or practical, with a bit of lateral thinking, it can be both feasible and positive to include pets in the workplace.

As illustrated by the pets in the workplace case study, the reasons and benefits can vary; ranging from meeting the needs of employees with pets, providing an ‘ice-breaker’ that helps with client interactions, or simply helping to create a friendly atmosphere.

 

A Place for All Case Studies

Progressive pet friendly developments

Dog friendly policies can be good for business

Animal shelter vouches for adoptee pets in rental accommodation

Community contact promoted through dog parks and coffee culture

Pet friendly policies for the workplace foster happy staff and happy pets

Pet friendly accommodation

Retirement accommodation successfully plans for pets

 

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