Narara Ecovillage is not a pet-free community but our Community Management Statement includes the aim to minimise the number. We are concerned about the risk to wildlife as we have many lizard, frog and rare bird species on the land we have custodianship for. We take the protection of this diverse ecology very seriously. We are also aware of the potential disharmony, damage and distress among community members from cats, dogs and other domestic animal companions who are not managed well.
We also acknowledge the potential benefits of having well-managed pets in our community. Our agreed policy position includes restrictions on where dogs can go on common property, the use of leashes for dogs and cats when off personal property (we plan to create a contained off-leash area for dogs in the future) and the suggestion that cat owners have a fully fenced run if they are outdoor felines. Cats are not to be free-roaming at any time and rabbits or other potentially damaging rodents need to be contained.
Our aim is to manage the inclusion of companion animals in a proactive and collaborative way and we are drawing on the principles and practice of Sociocracy to trial a process which may be unique to Narara Ecovillage. See: How are decisions made in Narara Ecovillage? We have formed a decision-making circle of self-nominated members with a range of opinions on the issue of pets in community.
This Companion Animal Collaboration Circle will receive and consider applications from all members who wish to bring a companion animal onto the site as part of their household. These applications include information about the particular animal including their needs, daily care routine, patterns of behaviour and the names of other members who are already familiar with them who may share the care for the pet. Alternative plans for what happens if the pet or the community is really unhappy are also included in the application. This circle will consider the application, consult the owners and neighbours where appropriate, make suggestions around any concerns that are raised and set a timeframe for review of how things are going. If problems arise, the circle will collectively seek to find a resolution that meets everybody’s needs, including those of the pet.