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Just Visiting: How To Make Your Banned Dog A Permanent Resident

home_main_04How far are you prepared to go to protect your dog inside High Rise Society?

We all know the things we’re willing to do on the outside.  OK, I don’t actually have a dog, but I’m a devoted aunt to my sister’s two pugs – a niece and a nephnie hermaphrodite. We take them to be groomed (no matter that my neighbor’s Maltese collapsed from a heart attack while she was being blown dry), walk them (careful to avoid those high-voltage underground vaults), and pick up their poop (at the risk of being fined).  I even know a woman who bakes rabbit-based biscuits for her schnauzer.  (Sorry, she’s got too much time on her hands.)

But thanks to a decision just last week, you should consider adding to that list: The Art of Deception.

Maybe you know about The Pet Law.  Basically, it says that even if your proprietary lease says you can’t have a dog, you really can so long as the board doesn’t start a proceeding against you within three months of finding out about your illegal occupant. The Portnoys figured out how to buy more time.

freeguestpassIgnoring the ban against dogs in their Brooklyn co-op, they brought home their Shih Tzu in July.  They walked her past the staff, even brought her to a shareholders meeting in September so everyone knew she was there.  Only the board didn’t do anything till April because it said the Portnoys had told them in November that the dog had only been visiting, and was no longer there. Except the super saw the teacup-sized pure breed in the closet the following month

Sorry, the court told the board just last week, you waited too long so the dog stays. But they lied to us, its members complained, and we should get an extension because we didn’t know the truth till January.  Time doesn’t stand still just because you were taken in by their ruse.  The law gives you three months – not a day more, no matter what. It’s not like those judges who have discretion over how much time to sentence convicted killers. There’s no wiggle room when it comes to dogs.

Far be it from me to counsel you on how to beat the system with impunity.  But the lesson to be learned from the Portnoys is that if your dog is found out, and you’re afraid you’re going to be sent packing along with him – maybe it’s time to get creative. (Lying is such a dirty word.) Say your poodle is recuperating from a stay in the hospital or he’s only in town for a few weeks shooting a dog food commercial. Whether you succeed depends on how good an actor you are, and how trusting your board is. Remember, so long as you get them to hold off bringing an action till ONE DAY after three months, your dog achieves legal permanent resident status without the need to apply for a green card.

eviction-main_FullBut not every dog story has such a happy ending, especially if you live in a condo. If you can believe it, there’s a long-standing split between the courts. The judges that preside over Manhattan and the Bronx say The Pet Law was meant to protect renters so it doesn’t apply to condo owners who aren’t tenants under a proprietary lease. But the judges that govern the other boroughs say it’s only fair that pet owners in co-ops and condos be treated the same.

The reality hit one unlucky woman after she moved into her condo with four dogs and four cats, despite the fact that the bylaws allowed only two pets, including one dog. Even though the board waited seven years to take action, and supposedly only acted against dogs it didn’t like, it won because  The Pet Law didn’t apply where she and her menagerie lived.  But when Charlie’s owner, who lived in Queens, said the board had waited too long to oust him — and her — because his barking had put them on notice from the start, The Pet Law was there to help.

What it all comes down to is how much risk you are willing to take.  If you walk around chugging a bottle of Mylanta, better play it safe and be sure your Pomeranian is welcome.  Should you opt to break the rules (not something I’m advocating in this case), know that if you call a condo home, the endgame may depend on where it’s located.

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