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Cape Town is a paradise for dogs and is the ninth fastest-growing city worldwide when it comes to pet ownership

Interior designer Will Engelbrecht had always wanted a dog, but his single lifestyle in a small apartment in the City Bowl meant caring for a pet would be a challenge.

He wasn’t alone, though, and discovered an increasing number of apartment blocks and estates were becoming pet-friendly in response to an increasing demand from property buyers and tenants. Not only that, there were also dog day-care centres and even dog hotels shooting up, making it easier to have a pet. Engelbrecht is now the proud owner of Maddox, a bull terrier.

Millennials starting out in their first property and baby boomers looking to downscale with age mean pet-friendly apartments are indeed rising in popularity, says Seeff Property Group. Since these two demographics are the biggest buyers, Seeff urges developers to catch up with this growing trend.

With its beaches, parks, mountain and promenade, Cape Town is certainly a paradise for dogs. The city has been cited as the ninth fastest-growing city worldwide when it comes to pet ownership, says Yunic Klue, owner of Cape Town’s famous dog hotel, @Frits Dog Hotel and Daycare Centre.

Engelbrecht’s Maddox is one of the more than 120 dogs that find their way to her dog crèche during the week. “Our clients come in all ages, sizes and colours, and their owners too,” says Klue.

“The reason for this is that finding pet-friendly and pet-suitable accommodation in Cape Town, particularly in the city, is difficult. Leaving a dog in an apartment for an entire day while an owner goes to work is not kind, so our crèche is full every day.”

Klue says during the week, 80% of the pets are there for daycare as most of their owners are at work, and at weekends 80% are there for sleepovers when their owners go out or away.

So big is the demand for dog daycare from city slickers that @Fritz Hotel has had to move to bigger premises – a 2 400m² site in trendy Bree Street. Bree Street itself has caught on to the pet trend and many of the hot new restaurants there are pet-friendly (on condition your dog is trained and won’t create havoc).

Hackett Hounds in Main Road, Tokai, offers a similar service. Proprietors Danielle and Adrienne Hackett welcome between 60 and 70 dogs a day. The canines arrive every morning with their packed lunches. Their furry clients range in age from 12 weeks to 17 years.

“Apart from having company, dogs that attend daycare tend to be better socialised,” says Danielle. “They behave well on walks in the park and on the beach, both with other dogs and with people. We have had dogs who arrive insecure and then come out of their shells and turn into confident, happy animals. Another advantage is older dogs tend to help discipline the younger ones.”

Engelbrecht says: “My life has certainly changed for the better since Maddox came into it, thanks to pet-friendly apartments and dog daycare making it all possible.”

Adrian Mauerberger and Cecily Sher, Seeff Atlantic Seaboard agents, say: “For baby boomers, pets become vital companions, replacing children who have left the nest and often to replace a lost partner. Pets help combat loneliness and depression. There is also research that shows pet ownership fosters greater community spirit.”

Many of their buyers are downscaling from large homes with gardens in Camps Bay and other Atlantic seaboard suburbs but want to keep their pets.

Their advice to pet lovers: Look at garden apartments, estates and new complexes as older apartment blocks are usually not pet-friendly, especially those on the beachfront.  –

Selling tips for dog owners

Option: Consider a dog hotel. Picture: @Frits Dog Hotel

Will your dog will be happy to be locked away while your home is being shown, or can you can walk the pet whenever someone wants to see the property? 

◆Consider letting your dog stay with friends or a relative, or at a dog hotel, while your home is on the market.

◆Be aware of dog odours. Ask a friend without pets to do a “sniff test” to see whether you’ve done enough cleaning.

◆Have your carpets, curtains and upholstery cleaned, or replaced if necessary.

◆Put away dog toys, leashes and other clutter when showing your home.

◆Check for dog damage such as scratched floors and doors or trampled bushes, and make repairs.

Buying advice pet-friendly homes

Research: Find out if there is dog daycare in the area. Picture: Hackett Hounds

Tips for buying a pet-friendly property:

◆Know the policies in your suburb and the rules of the homeowners or sectional title associations to ensure you are compliant.

◆Look for an area where many residents have dogs as they will be more accepting of your pet.

◆Look for a suburb with pet-friendly retailers and restaurants.

◆Establish the whereabouts of the nearest dog parks.

◆Check out dog daycare options in the area if you’ll need them.

◆If you opt for a high-rise, know where you can walk your dog and whether your dog is comfortable in lifts

◆If you can’t find a garden with a wall, find out whether you are allowed to build one and how much it will cost.

◆Be careful to check the stairs if your dog has trouble climbing them.

Precautions: Legal issues

Homeowners and tenants who keep dogs on their properties may be held liable if their pets attack lawful visitors or unlawful trespassers. Both have the right to claim damages from homeowners or tenants if they are injured by a guard dog on the property, says Johannes du Plessis, legal adviser at Risk Benefit Solutions.

“Owners and occupiers of properties or buildings can be held liable for damages caused by a dog bite by a domesticated pet if the dog attacked a lawful visitor without provocation. 

“Furthermore, legal precedent shows that owners and tenants in densely populated areas should anticipate the possible presence of an unlawful trespasser. Precautions would include the owner or tenant affixing a clearly visible warning notice at the entrance. Dogs would also have to be kept in such a way that trespassers can stay out of their way 

*Additional reporting by Vivien Horler

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