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Q. My co-op has a 25-pound weight limit on dogs. I want to adopt a puppy from the shelter but without knowing the parents, it will be hard to know for sure how big it will get. What if it grows to, say, 35 pounds? Can my board make me get rid of the dog?
A. According to our BrickTank experts, there are several ways to avoid a hairy situation once your dog comes of age.
Legally speaking, you are on pretty safe ground so long as it takes your dog at least 90 days to exceed your building’s 25-pound limit, says real estate lawyer Jeffrey Reich. After that, the only grounds for evicting a pet are that your dog is a nuisance.
Still, most of our experts agree that full disclosure is the best way to foster good relationships between you, your neighbors, and your board.
“Feigning ignorance that your ‘lil adoptive pup is suddenly a retriever-sized rule breaker just isn’t going to make your co-op board’s day,” says Thomas Usztoke, a managing director at Douglas Elliman Property Management.
Usztoke suggests diplomatically working towards a change of policy.
“Establish a dialogue with the directors,” he says. “They are your fellow tenant shareholders after all [and] it’s possible the rule pre-exists from a rental building legacy.”
Real estate lawyer Dean Roberts acknowledges that while it’s often easier to beg forgiveness than get permission, there is a way to hedge the potential for conflict.
“Get something in writing from the shelter ‘estimating’ the dog’s weight at around 25 pounds, but let the board know it’s not guaranteed,” he suggests.
Even without knowing your dog’s specific genealogy, most shelters are pretty on point.
“A shelter puppy’s physical characteristics, even without knowing the canine parents’ pedigree, will provide for a decent guesstimate as to their eventual size,” says Usztoke. “This is where experienced shelter staff and veterinarians should be able to counsel prospective adopters.”
Generally speaking, says Usztoke, bigger paws mean bigger puppies, and males tend to grow larger than females.
Note that an actual weigh-in is unlikely to occur.
“I have never known a board to actually weigh a dog, but the general concept of a 25 pound limit means they want only small dogs so I would stick to breeds of small, light weight dogs,” says Roberta Axelrod, who has sat on dozens of boards as a sponsor’s representative for Time Equities.
Instead, your board might ask to see evidence from your vet that your dog is in compliance.