The idea of allowing one’s pet into a retirement village once was strictly a “no”.

Nowadays, two-thirds of Australian households have a pet, which are an integral part of the household’s lives.

In addition, it has been found by academics to be good for an owner, particularly if they move into retirement living alone, to bring their pet with them. The pet provides comfort, companionship, something to live for and should mean that the owner will exercise.

What is the law?

Retirement living operators are governed by the Retirement Village Act in their state. Pets, whether to allow them or ban them, is not mentioned in any of the acts.

It is up to pet-friendly retirement village managers to draw up a document, often called a “pet policy”, sometimes also referred to as “pet guidelines”, which a client will be required to acknowledge and sign before they move in as a resident.

It is advisable to check the “pet policy” if a potential client has more than one retirement village in mind.

Are there any restrictions on pets?

Most retirement villages will allow you to bring a small pet.

In some instances, they may even allow you to have two small dogs or cats, or a dog and a cat.

There may also be rules around other animals, such as birds and reptiles, and so it’s best to ask about all the types of living creatures that are permitted.

It’s also important to take note of any requirements that a resident with a pet must adhere to, for example, must the pet always remain indoors? Or does it need to have completed obedience training?

What happens when a pet dies?

Pets don’t live forever, and unfortunately, there will come a time when they pass. Should this happen, what are the rules around getting a new companion? Is this something that is permitted?

This is up to the village manager, and some residents associations will also weigh in on the decision.

Important things to consider

Is there plenty of space within the village or nearby for daily walks?

Taking your dog out for a walk is a great opportunity for the owner to get outside, get some fresh air and keep their body moving. Be sure to check if there is a walking path within the village or somewhere nearby, perhaps there is an off-leash area or a dog park to go to.

Before a resident moves in with their pet, they should find out what animals already reside there and if there are any pet facilities or programs available. Perhaps there is a dog walking group or a regular puppy play date set up that the owner and their dog can participate in.

It’s also wise to check if there a possibility for visitors to bring their pets with them. For example, is a resident able to look after a loved one’s pet if they ask you to pet sit?

Check the whereabouts of a vet

Whether it is an annual check-up or a health emergency, having a vet close will give the pet’s owner peace of mind that their pet can get help when it needs it.

Does a pet owner need to worry about non-pet owners?

Whether a resident has a pet or not, it’s important that the rights of both owners and non-owners are protected so that everyone can happily coexist.

The pet owner has to adhere to the Pet Policy and Agreement. The policy also reassures non-pet owners that the retirement village will deal with any pet issues if and when they arise.