Does My Co-op Really Need to Know Everything About My Pet?


Q: My co-op recently instituted a pet registration policy. Owners are now being asked to provide details about their pets including distinguishing features, vaccination history, and contact information for veterinarians and pet sitters. I understand that management needs to know who owns a pet, but this level of inquiry feels invasive and unnecessary. I have a cat that never leaves the apartment. Am I obligated to provide all this granular detail?

A: Co-ops generally have the right to set conditions about companion pets, enacting rules about leashing, vaccinations and the collection of basic information.

Check your building’s governing documents to see what exists about pet rules. However, even if you don’t find much, you’re going to have a hard time pushing back on this policy. Boards have considerable discretion in their decision-making because of what is known as the business judgment rule.

“That discretion is difficult to challenge in court unless the co-op is unlawfully discriminating, or violating some agreement,” said Darryl M. Vernon, a real estate lawyer who represents people with companion animals.


Your co-op’s new rule is actually a fairly common one. Buildings frequently collect personal information about pets to keep tabs on their comings and goings. They do this to protect pets and people. A dog could be injured, or injure someone else, in a common area of the building when the owner is not present. The dog walker or sitter might not know the name of the vet, or if the dog is up-to-date on its vaccinations. If the building has that information readily available, it could act quickly in an emergency.

Even house cats occasionally escape their apartments and can get into trouble. If your cat is wandering the halls without a collar, management might have an easier time figuring out where it belongs if it knows what the cat looks like. As for the names of pet sitters, buildings often collect the personal information of regular vendors for security reasons.

“Believe it or not, getting all this kind of information is now becoming common,” said Dan Wurtzel, the president of FirstService Residential New York, a property management firm. “It’s really for the protection of the residents and the safety of the residents. It’s not meant to be a pain point for the residents.”

One building that FirstService represents goes so far as to ask for fecal samples from pets. Since yours is simply asking for general information, it’s best to comply with the request.

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