Jan 03

Back in April HUD provided Fair Housing guidance on emotional support animals. These rights supercede any no pet policy and apply to untrained pets in addition to highly trained service animals such as seeing eye dogs. You also cannot refuse the companion animal based on a blanket policy against certain breeds such as pit bulls.

Reading the HUD docs and comments on the emotional support animals I erroneously believed that the companion animal has to comply with local codes that prohibit certain animals, but recently there have been a rash of cases across the county where people are winning the “right” to have farm animals such as pigs and chickens living in their urban homes, condos and apartments. After reading of these cases I jokingly say I’m getting a python because I need a big hug after work.

Kidding aside, tread carefully when making decisions. Basically if the tenant or prospective tenant has a doctor’s prescription for the pet you must allow it.

There is however a whole industry that has sprung up selling vests proclaiming an animal to be a support dog or worse a service dog.  Remember service animals have many thousands of dollars in specialized training. A vest alone is not proof of anything other than the pet owner had the $40 to buy one.

There are even doctors who prescribe emotional support animals over the phone to people who live even thousands of miles away.  Just give them  $99 and away you go.  I believe that you must accept the prescription from an out of state internet doc. Perhaps these docs could improve their bottom line by also writing excuses the next time there are protests at our state capitol building.

Note: I fully support the laws that require acceptance of true service animals, such as seeing eye dogs. If you knowingly reject a service animal you probably deserve whatever legal consequences  you receive.  I also believe in some circumstances that companion animals are legitimate.  The kid with the chicken in the link above is probably one example.  I do however object to circumventing no pet policies in housing and air travel with fake documentation proclaiming a pet to be a service animal and the industry that has sprung up to sell those documents.

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