The CAT Rules Against Doberman
The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) recently released a decision regarding a tenant’s dog. The condominium alleged that the dog was a Doberman or mixed breed Doberman and the Declaration prohibited certain dog breeds. Specifically, Article 10.11 of the Declaration states:
Despite any of the foregoing because the presence of certain breeds of dogs, aggressive dogs, or dogs which give the impression of being aggressive, may give concern to other Unit Occupants, there shall be no dog allowed on this Condominium Plan (Common Elements or Units) which are one ( 1) or more of the following breeds, cross breeds, or types: Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Doberman, Akita, any sort of guard dogs, dogs originally bred for fighting, or such other breed as the Board may determine, in its absolute discretion, from time-to-time is prohibited.
There were no allegations that the dog was aggressive or caused any nuisance. The case was purely about the breed of the dog. The condominium submitted photographs of the dog and social media posts by the tenant where the tenant identified the dog as a “Doberman mix”.
The condominium sought to enforce Article 10.11 of its Declaration and asked for an order requiring the tenant to remove the dog from the property. The condominium also sought its legal costs of $10,000.
The owner argued that she had no authority to take the dog to the vet, but there was no evidence she even asked her tenant to do so.
The tenant did not participate in the hearing, although the CAT member was satisfied that he was aware of the hearing and the possibility that his dog would be ordered to be removed.
The CAT member was satisfied that the tenant and owner had failed to comply with the Declaration. The CAT member was not satisfied that the evidence supported a definitive conclusion that the dog was a Doberman, but the Declaration also gave the board of directors the authority to make the determination as to whether the dog was or was not, and the CAT member felt the evidence presented by the condominium suggested the board’s decision was reasonable.
The CAT member stated that removing a dog is a serious matter and noted there were no reported incidents of aggression or noise. Notwithstanding such, the CAT member felt there was non-compliance with the clear provisions in the Declaration. The owner suggested that the tenant told her the dog was an emotional support animal. The CAT member found that there was no request for accommodation made and an assertion of a need for a particular animal was not sufficient. Accordingly, the tenant was ordered to remove the dog within 21 days of the order.
There was an interesting twist in the case. The CAT member gave the tenant a chance to avoid the removal if he provided a letter from a licensed veterinarian stating that the dog was not a prohibited breed, and the letter described the basis for the breed designation given for the dog, within 21 days of the order. This is interesting given the condominium had already asked the tenant to provide a letter from a licensed veterinarian about the breed in September of 2021 and the tenant failed to do so.
The condominium sought $10,879.63 in legal costs pursuant to its Declaration, the Condominium Act, 1998, and the CAT’s Rules. The CAT member reviewed Rule 48.1 which states an unsuccessful party will be required to pay the successful party’s Tribunal fees unless the member decides otherwise. As the condominium was successful, the CAT awarded it $200 for its CAT filing fees. With respect to the legal costs, the CAT did not order costs against the tenant as the condominium did not engage much directly with the tenant about the dog. The CAT member reviewed the indemnification language in the Declaration, the conduct of the parties, and other general principles with respect to costs in condominiums and ordered the owner to pay the condominium $1,500 for its legal costs within 30 days of the order.