Co-Living US

How To Stay Sane When Your Roommate Isn’t Taking Care of Sparky

You love animals, but you don’t love neglectful roommates. Whether your roomate is always late paying rent or they don’t take proper care of their cat, dog, budgie or iguana, it’s you who feels the impact. So, if you find yourself regularly cleaning up poop, vacuuming hairs or sharing your chicken legs with hungry pets, how can you stay sane?

An untrained pet leads to a messy, smelly house, and if you’ve agreed to let your roommate keep their furry friend in your home, there are certain standards they should adhere to. Remember; their pet isn’t your responsibility. Follow these tips to make the best of the hairy situation that’s unfolding.

Your roommate doesn’t walk their dog often enough

“[My roommate] has a Maltipoo mix who’s currently 2 years old. They just moved into the place we’re currently living at about 5 months ago, and I, nearly 2 months ago. I’m not sure how she’s taken care of her dog prior to me moving in, but since I’ve started residing there, I’ve never seen her walk her dog. I voiced my opinion on this and suggested that she spend more time with him (even take him to work, as her workplace is dog-friendly). She obliged a couple times (maybe 3 times max since I’ve lived with her) and has spent maybe half a day to a full day once or twice (again, since I’ve moved in).

As far as I’ve seen, Sarah doesn’t play with the dog at all but she keeps him in her room with her boyfriend as soon as she comes home until the next morning when she’s off to work/wherever else.”

If, like Reddit poster butwhythough1, you’re feeling sorry for your roommate’s house-bound doggo, what can you do? You know owning a pet is a decision that’s not to be taken lightly and that a dog needs exercise, but you no longer want to resort to walking it yourself.

This sort of case isn’t illegal, so unless the neglect develops into something more extreme, the NYPD or an animal control agency won’t be able to help. Instead, you’ll have to voice your concerns to your roommate. Make him/her aware that dogs need to be walked, and provide numbers for local dog walkers if they don’t have the time.

If that’s not an option, a careful conversation should help you determine what is. If they’re struggling to find either the time or money to properly care for an animal, speak to them about finding another loving home that can give the animal the life it deserves.

Your roommate’s pet isn’t potty-trained

A cat that can’t use the kitty litter or a dog that doesn’t do its business outside can start to really affect your own quality of life. It’s difficult to turn a blind eye when unpleasant animal scents waft their way into your nose every time you step into your own apartment.

Reddit poster readoldbooks had a similar experience:

“My roommate has a 1.5 year old Aussie Shepherd who constantly pees inside the house, EVERYDAY. She is taken outside every morning, around lunch, every evening, but still pees inside as soon as no one is watching her (even if I am home but in another room, she will pee on the house). She does nothing to alert that she needs to go outside. How can we train her?”

Your response to this really depends on your own history with animals. If you’re experienced with cats or dogs (especially with the breed in question), you could actively help them train their pet or offer advice. If not, you’ll find training guides and videos online to share with your roommate. Avoid giving in and cleaning up the mess yourself, as this will just let your roomi think they’re off-the-hook and they could stop taking responsibility altogether. Bring the pee or poop to their attention immediately to make sure the pet owner is keeping on top of any potential hygiene issues. 

What if the neglect is more serious?

If you’re witnessing serious animal abuse or if talking things through doesn’t yield the outcome you want, remember that as a cohabitant, you’re in a good position to report neglect. Keep a written diary of everything you experience – with dates, times and specific details wherever possible. Take photos that show the abuse, such as where the pet is kept and the pet itself, and report animal cruelty to the appropriate organization.