Tuesday, 28 April 2009

by-laws: keep the dog!

The NSW CTTT Strata Division ruled in favour of keeping 'Oscar' at a unit in Coogee. It was a tricky case where the body corporate twice refused 'permission' to keep a dog and then attempted to change the by-laws during the dispute to block our members' application.

The lesson to responsible pet owners is clear. Persist, do not surrender.

The Tribunal held that the refusal was not reasonable. It clearly ordered that just because there had 'never' been pets, and the refusal of pets has stood for decades, that was not a good enough reason to say NO PETS. In granting the owners' permission, common-sense orders were also made to appease the opposition such as entering or leaving the Strata by the most direct route and cleaning up as required in the common areas.

This is a significant ruling in NSW and we need to keep getting these issues before the tribunal and courts if we are going to accommodate our pets as our homes get smaller and our communities more densely populated. Members page on renting with pets and pets in strata. Read this judgment here.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Barking Dogs - How to Share the Joy

Response to recent media on dogs barking.

I too am frustrated by urban residents who permit their dog/s to bark unnecessarily. Even in semi-rural areas, the sound of a dog barking pierces a quiet, peaceful night. It is no longer accepted behaviour, though it is as organic to some dogs as talking on a mobile phone in public is for some people.

But annoyances should be viewed in context. Unlike the ubiquitous and more annoying car or house alarms, the benefits of the companion dog cannot be underestimated. Though some will abhor the choice of expensive accessories, the economic contribution of $4.6 billion annually from pet owners should not be overlooked. Think about this number the next time our government cancels a $500,000 project to your disgust. Alternatively, consider that this is a greater contribution than fishing/forestry combined. Though fish don’t bark, fishing has its own pros and cons, including beach and sea litter.

Quoting NSW Dept. of Health: Animals visit older people in nursing homes, young people in paediatric wards, trauma victims in acute care wards, and people under care in mental health and palliative care services. They provide comfort, entertainment, distraction, solace and a unique form of interaction. The benefits of these visits are well established and comprehensively documented.

There is no such comparison of an public-health benefit for other urban noise such as alarms, diesel buses, pool pumps, the neighbours air conditioner, etc.

As our homes get smaller, and single-person homes become the majority, the solace and motivation a companion dog provides to get out and walk must not be negated just because dogs bark.

It's said that 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name (SMH Letters, 17 April); I would suggest 10% of dog owners annoy others so much as to blind them to the proven benefits of pet-ownership.

Banning dogs from every public space doesn’t work. In Europe dogs are better-behaved and invited into more community spaces. We live in a pluralistic society; if you are annoyed by a dog barking, why not offer to co-parent or pet-sit, then you can share the joy. If the dog is happier or not alone as much, it’s likely to bark less. If this doesn’t work, for the benefit of us responsible owners, throw the noise-regulation book at them. 'Thou shalt not be annoyed by a nuisance dog' has a place is legislation - truly.

Friday, 17 April 2009

We've gone International

If dogs and cats are bad, a nuisance, not able to live in units, inappropriate if owned by a renter and not suitable to take on public transport and not fit to accompany you on holiday - AS WELL AS A HEALTH RISK, then why are 'assistance' dogs any different, and why are dogs in the EU any different?

We've joined woopets and started a group called Help Make Australia Pet-Friendly. About half of our members have lived overseas or emigrated here. They know how nice it is when public policy reflects public values and recognises the social and economic importance of pets. (Yes, yes, yes...there are laws to deal with the idiots, just like there are for idiot drivers).

We've started forum topics for pets on holiday, in strata, on beaches, in public spaces and on public transport. We hope to get a lot of input and gain a solid understanding of policy in pet-friendly countries.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Plagiarism 101 & Renting with Pets

This post is dedicated to an as-yet unnamed organisation that has given us another legal argument to help remove the 'no-pets' clause that exists for renters in NSW but not in Victoria.

I've been admitted to law school. But I'm having an ethical dilemma. The Course Information Guide states that "One of the most fundamental qualities of a lawyer is honesty." This is not a joke. It then goes on to back this up with two examples - one from 2004 and one from 2007 where lawyers were reprimanded for plagiarism. There is one solicitor for every 500 people in Australia; citing 2 reprimands does not do much to support the premise that a quality, let alone a fundamental quality of a lawyer is honesty. Or am I being too cynical? If so, I refer to the Bush Lawyer Rules, plagiarised from Dr. Greg Ogle and edited by me. The Bush Lawyer
  • is not a lawyer
  • reserves the right to abuse the next person who says "have you thought about being a lawyer"
  • used to be an idealist, but has been made cynical by the legal system
  • thinks "The Castle" is a more important legal source than the rules of the court
  • learns most tricks from the other side or by mimicking "normal" legal practice
  • works till the wee small hours because there are better things to do in daytime
  • can usually be paid with "beers-in-lieu".
Like every legal practitioner, the bush lawyer has ethical standards and rules to work by. These rules are, inter alia:
  • pleadings should be read sober (but affidavits should only be written while drinking Chardonnay)
  • pleadings can be written when drunk, but should be checked in the morning
  • bush lawyer pleadings should contain political arguments - just to annoy the other side
  • the form of pleadings can and should be plagiarised from other cases
  • bush lawyer pleadings should always be longer than those from the other side
  • only use words like "with respect" and "with the greatest respect" in parody, or in the pub afterwards
  • do not refer to the other side's lawyer as my' friend' - they're not
  • always be suspicious of lawyers on your side - they have their own constraints, and you know your case better
  • never accept that lawyers on the other side are simply following instructions - they are an active part of chilling your right to free speech
  • never send a one-page letter to the other side, it is unsporting
  • try to include at least one piece of Latin in any correspondence, it is much more credible than relying on the "vibe of the constitution" (but about as meaningless).

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Quotes of Note or Nonsense

A few quotes of note.

From SMH Heckler: "This Government needs to concentrate on what they were elected to do - they should put more effort into providing services and spend less time imposing draconian penalties for minor, harmless breaches of outdated laws. (Our Note: We emphasise HARMLESS and relate it to a $330 fine for walking your dog on an empty beach at 7.30am in Sydney).

From The Castle movie:
Federal court judge: And what law are you basing this argument on?
Darryl Kerrigan: The law of bloody common sense!

"It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."
"If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologise than it is to get permission."
One of my heroines, a fellow engineer and a co-worker at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) for one amazing year before she died at age 85 in 1992. - Grace Murray Hopper. For several years I was the only female hardware engineer for DEC in Australia - I left in favour of corporate environmental management when things started to go the way of desktop, PC computing. (Oceancare link, computer recycling link, bush walking link)

From the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 1994: "When Admiral Grace Murray Hopper died, the world lost an inspiration to women and scientists everywhere. Her outstanding contributions to computer science benefited academia, industry, and the military." I lost an inspiration too, but of course her brilliance and brazenness (meaning she was not a lady-in-waiting) continue to inspire me. She believed that the decisions of the past were not the best method to choose the way forward. How novel!

Last week I worked on a case to keep pets in a NSW Strata. The owner's corporation objection to the application was based solely on the premise that the past predicts the future. How annoying...but none-the-less we achieved pets in strata, a success no doubt aided by such a illogical argument.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Political Party: Vote Dog-Friendly, Pet Friendly

Barking Mad will be putting up a candidate for the next Senate election. Name our party is back on the agenda - seriously. See previous post.

So, please help with a name (not more than six words).
Here is a start:
  • People and Pets
  • Citizens with Pets (CWP)
  • People with Pets (PWP)
  • Our Families, Our Pets (OFOP)
  • Responsible Pet Owners of Australia (RPOA)
  • Family Pet Reform Party (FPRP)
  • Citizens for Pets (CFP)
  • Family Pet Advocacy Party (FPAT) FP Advisory Party?
  • People/Citizens with Companion Animals/Pets (PWCA, CWCA, CWCP, PWCP)
  • Family Companion Animal Advocacy Party (FCAAP)
  • Pawlitically Correct (huh?)
Funny links: democats, repuppycans - for politically minded pets.
Image from MyDogVotes
AEC Party Registration Handbook
Vote now so you can vote for your pet in the next election.