What If You Are Asked to Remove Your Companion Animal(s)?
If the rules have changed
after you already have a companion animal in your home, you
should be protected by a grandfather clause,
according to the State of
Unfortunately the only other thing you can do at this point in time, if you qualify, is to get
"doctor's letter" asking to have an emotional support animal as a reasonable accomodation.
Be sure to
call your animal an emotional support animal and NOT a pet.
FHEO Notice: FHE0-2013-01: "An assistance animal is not a pet."
Americans with Disabilities Act defines both
physical and emotional disabilities. A disability is defined
physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
animals can be prescribed by your doctor or therapist.
A dog can be both. See definitions of types of assistive or support animals HERE.
If you get a written response from your association board denying your right to have your ESA in spite of
the doctors letter,
there are agencies that will help you fight for your rights. See free legal.
What are “major life activities” under ADAAA?
WHAT TO DO, STEP BY STEP
from Barbara Feeney, on our advisory board
Contact Barbara for assistance.
1) get a doctor's letter
Here is a
sample doctor's letter (from the BazelonCenter for Mental Health Law). The important things that need to
in the letter are 1) a statement
that you have a disabling condition, 2) a statement that having a support
animal "ameliorates and
you with a major life function and 3) something to indicate the qualifications of the
writer - degree and
state license number. '...according to Joan Esnayra, founder of the Psychiatric Service Dog
Society, the outcome
of those lawsuits depends largely on the words people use to describe their animals. “If you
say ‘comfort,’‘need’ or ‘emotional support,’ you’re out the door,” she says. “If you talk about what your animal does in
of ‘tasks’ and ‘work,’ then you stand a chance.”' (reference "Creature Comforts," NY Times Magazine, 1/4/2009).
"From my experience, the key to a successful request for a 'prescription pet' is for the health care provider to
specify in writing that he/she is 'prescribing' the assistive/emotional support animal as a 'necessary component
of ongoing treatment'”. -- Barbara Feeney, MPA.
Here is an example from Barbara Feeney of an actual doctor's letter (names removed): doctor's letter.
2) Once you have your doctor's letter create a cover letter with a question:
Whenever you contact your association and/or the management company, do so in writing. Send a note
the form of a
question (with a question mark/"?" at the end (eg. "Based on the attached documentation from
may I please keep my emotional support animal?") and send your correspondence via
option you can choose
When you send a question via certified mail,
and its representatives are required by
Florida law to respond. Other states may differ.
(per Cyber Citizens for Justice)
Here is an example from Barbara Feeney of an actual cover letter (names removed): cover letter.
3) Now mail everything appropriately and keep copies:Mail letters to the property manager (or association president) by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Include the original, signed letter from your physician with your letter to the property manager (or association president).
Keep photocopies, electronic files, or scanned electronic copies of all correspondence.
Keep the copies of the signed letters from you and your physician in a very safe place.
Send copies of your letters, for information only (FYI) to Office of Equal Opportunity and Legal Aid Society in your county.
(See sample letters to OEO, to legal aid.)
Send the enclosed cover letter stating that you are NOT filing a complaint at this time, but that you want to let them know what is going on and that you
may be filing a complaint in the future.
|Have you presented a letter from a doctor documenting a need for an emotional support animal, and still have been denied the right to have an emotional support animal? If so, contact a FHAP (Fair Housing Assistance Partners) agency. For more info go to http://www.petsincondos.org/freelegal.htm. Or you can hire a private attorney. We suggest you start with www.floridaanimallawyer.com,
According to Stephanie Randolph, Investigation Specialist at the Florida Commission on Human Relations:
- The doctor's letter does not need to be notarized if the letter is on the doctor’s stationary.
- The doctor does not need to state the person’s disability. Only that the person is disabled and what life functions are limited by the disability.
must explain why the accommodation is necessary.
- If you believe you are being treated differently or unfairly based on one of the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act (race, color, sex, national
religion, disability or familial status) you may file a complaint with this agency.
- Once a person has been allowed a support/service animal, the Association may within a reasonable time request the person to provide a letter from
his/her doctor. The only exception to this is if in the original letter the doctor stated that the disability is permanent. For instance, a guide dog
does not need to be re-certified.
Usually, the only persons to be re-certified are persons with support animals. The re-certification cannot
take place every
year. However, every 5 years is not unreasonable.
Here are a few other things that MIGHT help your case:
Ask your neighbors to
write to the association board to say they are not bothered by your pet(s).
Create a pet resume to help make the board feel more comfortable about your pets. Florida Pets Network tells you how to create one.
See Resumes for Fido and Fluffy?
With difficult association boards you may need to get your dog certified as a service animal.
Contact us for a referral for help
getting your animal certified.
(Remember that emotional
disorders count as disabilities per the Americans
This extra step
may make it easier
to get approved, but certifying a dog as an emotional support animal as a service animal (see definitions of types of
assistive animals here) is
NOT required by law,
since fair housing law
does NOT require proof of training.
Recent ADA modifications only allow dogs as service animals, but other kinds of animals can be emotional support animals (see below).
Another line of defense to
consider is whether the no-pet rules in your association have been properlly
the county where the development is located.
Whether a condominium records its restriction
may be an issue as to whether the
restriction is legally enforceable and you
should consult with an attorney
regarding this issue.
If other people in your building/association have
pets, you can claim the affirmative defense
of the rules.
Gary Poliakoff, head of the Becker and Poliakoff law firm that services
of housing associations in Florida, lists
various defenses can fight a belated 'no pets' restriction. He
selective enforcement, and/or"latches" and "estoppel."
he latter two
relate to timeliness of enforcement or
waiver by action. He also mentions
trained service animals being allowed for
the handicapped (but fails to
emotional support animals. See our success stories
for cases where emotional support animals
"Howard, the condo documents say you can't have pets, but the rule has never been enforced. Can the board suddenly change its mind and force owners to get rid of their animals?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "No, they can't, because of what the law calls 'estoppel.' In other words, since the association never enforced the rule, they cannot suddenly make the residents get rid of their pets. Now they can ban residents from getting pets, but the residents who already have them can keep them until they die." Read more
Attorney Herb M. Milgrim says, "The defense of laches is applicable when the association’s inequitable conduct, lack of diligence,
delay, and inattention to pursuing enforcement of the pet restriction occurs. What this means is that if you walk your dog past
a board member every day for a year and then all of the sudden you get a letter seeking to enforce the pet restriction you may
be entitled to raise the defense of laches to overcome enforcement of the pet restriction". - http://floridacondoattorneys.com
Actions and speech which coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise of, or on
her or his having
exercised, or on account of her or his having aided or encouraged any other person
in the exercise…”
of their rights to reasonable
accommodation is unlawful. Appropriate administrative or civil
action may be taken.
(PART II FAIR HOUSING ACT, 760.37 of the Florida Statutes).
If a doctors letter is rejected
by a board or their lawyers, you can sue them for discrimination, with
fines in the
Florida Statutes Sections 413.081, 775.082 and 775.083.)
members and lawyers are not trained medical professionals.
They should not decide who
from animal companionship.
Citizens for Pets in Condos recommends:
“As an attorney that specializes in animal law I am frequently contacted by citizens that are being harassed and intimidated by homeowners
associations or condo boards-even though their animal is not bothering anyone and has been prescribed by their health care provider.
In fact the intimidation by the condo boards aggravates the very condition the animal is intended to alleviate. Of course the associations and
boards have far more resources to fight these petty battles, and are often successful in forcing someone to move or give up an animal that is
their life line because the pet owner has neither the money or emotional stamina to fight the association’s lawyers."
-- Marcy I LaHart, Esq., www.floridaanimallawyer.com, legal advisor for Citizens for Pets in Condos.
"Attorney LaHart has handled 40 to 50 cases involving residential boards and prescription pets over the last four years. Her clients are
prescribed pets for chronic depression, epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, autism and anxiety, among other “handicaps.” Every one of Ms.
LaHart’s cases has ended in her client keeping their pet. Her favorite cases end with residential boards writing the check for her legal fees.
Ms. LaHart has four dogs and two cats." - It's a Dogfight, by Athena Ponushis, 5/26/2011, Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter Florida Weekly.
Emotional Support Animals - Don’t Let Your Association Step In It!,
Rembaum's Association Roundup, by Jeffrey A. Rembaum, Esq.
scroll down to the 9/17/2014 article
Matthew W. Dietz
Law Offices of Matthew W. Dietz, P.L.
2990 Southwest 35th Avenue
Miami, FL 33133
Tel: (305) 669-2822
Fax: (305) 442-4181
The fair housing act permits any type of animals that are necessary for the equal use and enjoyment of a person with a disability. This includes a menagerie of any animal that can be imagined, if that animal does not pose a threat or danger to others. This includes animals which aid persons with anxiety or depression.
Herb M. Milgrim, P.A
954 966-3900 or 954 966-3909
4040 Sheridan Street
JOE DIMAGGIO BUILDING
Hollywood, FL 33021
If you or somebody you love has a service animal or emotional support animal and your Condo Association or Homeowner Association has not made reasonable accommodations for you or worse, is trying to enforce Pet Restrictions that don’t apply to your animal, you need to contact us to discuss your rights. In most cases you could be entitled to damages, as well as, reimbursement of your Attorney’s Fees and expenses.
The Law Firm of
Justine A. Mikolaitis PLLC
An Animal Law Practice
Find members of the Florida Bar Association Animal Law Committee here - http://tinyurl.com/FLBarAnimalLaw
Individual tele-consultation with Dr. Joyce Starr. Eliminate the toxic stress of your condo or HOA board
step-by-step solutions for problems before they become legal nightmares.
Protect your home, hearth and
If you need to hire a lawyer, we suggest you contact one of the members of the Florida Bar Animal Law Committee or, if you have a disabling
condition, contact an attorney who specializes in disability cases. Contact us for a referral to an attorney with experience in pet cases.
"Although they may present no outward signs of a disability, those who struggle with mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and phobias experience legitimate debilitation. Emotional Support Animals have proven effective in mitigating many symptoms of mental health disorders. Emotional Support Animals are not required to perform a specific task, thus making them different from service animals.," Kristy R. Becraft, MS, LMHC, Healing Through Animals from letter to the editor published in Dog Fancy magazine, August 2012.
This pretty kitty is an "emotional support" animal.
guardian is a stroke victim, plagued by a resulting emotional side-effect that
makes her break out
red from stress. This little baby helps her maintain her calm
and avoid another stroke.
Emotional support animals
are a type of assistive animal for aiding people who have mental
disabilities or who have
emotional components to serious
physical conditions. For instance, a
study by the World Health Organization found that people who had
diabetes, angina, or asthma
were more likely to suffer from depression than
people without these conditions.
here to read the legal opinion in this case, from a disability lawyer.
about the benefits of having pets.
Why Medication is NOT the Only Answer to
Treating Mental Illness
You have the right to
emotional support animals in "No Pet" housing.
These legal links explain more about your right
to have an emotional support animal:
HUD rules covering Emotional Support Animals (2008)
For legal professionals:
Obtaining Waivers of No Pet Policies for Clients That Rely Upon Service Animals And Emotional Support Animals by Marcy LaHart, Florida Animal Lawyer
"The Department of Justice explained an important distinction between a service animal for ADA purposes and a support animal for FHAA purposes.
The new rules limit service animals to dogs, but that doesn’t mean that housing providers can prohibit the use of other animals as a reasonable
accommodation for a disability pursuant to the FHAA.
"In the final rule, the Department excluded emotional support animals from the definition of "service animal." The ADA definition says that emotional
comfort, or companionship will not qualify as “work” or “tasks” for the purposes of determining whether an animal is a service animal.
Therefore, emotional support animals
are not necessarily service animals (although a dog can qualify as both at the same time). The U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development confirmed exactly that in
a memorandum directed to fair housing enforcement officers and regional counsel."
(source, Florida Condo Law Blog, Posted on March 10, 2011 by Lisa Magill).
[Note - the memorandum from HUD says, "Disabled individuals may request a reasonable accommodation for assistance animals in addition to dogs,
support animals, under the FHAct [fair housing act] or Section 504."]
HUD fair housing regulations, changed in October 2008 made it easier to have emotional support animals:
Gary A. Poliakoff, head of the Becker and Poliakoff law firm that represents many condo associations in Florida, said "...The Courts and the
U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD) have interpreted the [federal Fair Housing Act] to allow not only trained service animals,
but also emotional support animals. Proposed HUD
Rules on the subject [would] vastly expand the definition of those pets allowed to such an extent,
if approved, will pretty much eviscerate no pet restrictions..."
As of October 27, 2008, those proposed
rules were in fact approved.
Bryan Greene, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Programs, Department of Housing and Urban
Development (identified in the Federal
Register as the contact person
for questions regarding the recent rule change), advised us
that these rules DO apply to residents or owners
(See also Fair Housing Laws vs. a Community Association’s CC&R’s.) There are a few very limited exemptions to federal fair housing law
single family homes and
housing for no more than four families.
What types of housing are covered by the Fair Housing Amendments Act?
The Fair Housing Amendments Act applies to virtually all forms of housing, whether owned or rented. Exemptions from the Act are very narrow and fall into two basic categories: (1) buildings with four or fewer units where the owner lives in one of the units; and (2) the small owner provision, which exempts private owners who do not own more than three single family houses at one time, who do not use the services of a real estate broker or agent, and who do not produce any discriminatory publications, notices or mailings. 1
1 42 U.S.C. § 3603(b).
To read the entire text of the 2008 HUD rules which cover the right to have ESAs, go to http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/FINALRULE/Pet_Ownership_Final_Rule.pdf.
The2008 HUD rules struck down some of the obstacles to ESA's in "no pet" housing as follows:
1. Specialized task training of ESAs is unnecessary - “emotional support animals do not need training to
the effects of a person's mental and emotional disabilities. Emotional support animals by
their very nature, and
without training, may relieve depression and anxiety, and/or help reduce
stress-induced pain in persons with
certain medical conditions affected by stress.”
2. Documentation of the need for an ESA may come from "physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or
other mental health
professional." In Florida, "other mental health professionals" refers to the following health care professionals duly
licensed by the Florida Department of Health:
licensed mental health counselors
licensed clinical psychologists
licensed clinical social workers\
licensed marriage and family therapists.
[Note - 65% of drugs for dpression are by prescribed by primary care physicians, not psychiatrists, per CBS News 3/18/1012.]
3. There is no need for formal CERTIFICATION of the disability.
Our legal advisor, Marcy LaHart, Esq, summarizes, "As a matter of law a disabled person is not required to provide proof of
training or certification
support animal. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently
amended the Code of Federal Regulations
federal Fair Housing Act applies to both emotional support
animals and individually trained service animals. Emotional
may be prescribed
by a psychiatrist, but also
by a physician, social worker or other mental health professional."
Attorney LaHart continues "An affidavit is not necessary, a letter stating that the person has a disability, the disability
affects the patients major
and that in the doctor’s professional opinion an ESA is needed to ameliorate the
symptoms of that
disability or help the patient cope
with the disability is sufficient.
In fact under the FHA the letter need
not be from a doctor - a social worker
or other “mental health professional” may prescribe an ESA."
Further, there is no requirement that a doctor state that an ESA is “absolutely necessary” nor does the doctor have to
state that he or she is
willing to go
“Just because you have asked to have an emotional support animal, does not mean your condo board is entitled to your
medical or psychiatric records. The board is entitled to enough information to verify that you have a disability and your
animal helps you cope with your disability, nothing more,” Ms. LaHart said. “The condo is not doing you a favor by allowing
you to keep an emotional support animal, the condo is complying with the law.”
Also, as we have said above, the Florida Commission on Human Relations has told us that the "doctors letter" does
NOT need to be notarized
letter is on the doctor’s stationary.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Gary Poliakoff, of Becker & Poliakoff, recently commented (read here) that the doctor writing the letter "must provide
as to his
experience in the
field of the alleged handicap," which seems a much stronger requirement than
HUD guidelines."Family doctors ARE qualified
to write prescriptions for anxiety,
depression and other emotional ailments -
and frequently do
prescribe this type of medication.
often prescribe some of these same drugs when
unusually stressing events in order to prevent a cardiac
event. We see
no reason that a professional
who can prescribe these
pharmaceuticals should have to show any specialized expertise.
In many mental
practices, it is the social workers
doing the counseling therapy who
actually work with the patients (and only consult the
for adjustments to
medication.) This is why we need stronger laws to clarify the right
Maida Genser, President, Citizens for
Poliakoff further elaborates on the increasing trend to allow Emotional Support Animals in "Prescription Pets," Common
a reference to a 2004 California appeals court case that found in favor of a
dog owner because"the innate qualities of a dog, in
particular, a dog's friendliness and
ability to interact with humans,
made it therapeutic." The
article states that, "Recent court decisions have
loosened the standard for pets to be considered
'trained' to meet the needs of
a disabled person and, thus, protected by law.
In yet another article Poliakoff states that "...pet restrictions, other than in the case of emotional support animals, are
enforceable." Condo Consultant,
July 30, 2008.
See also, Pets Just May be the Right Medicine on Becker and Poliakoff’s “Florida Condo and HOA Law Blog, including
Feeney on the advisory board of Citizens for Pets in Condos.
In "Breed-profiling OK, but board can't ban service dogs," Poliakoff makes it clear that the association must a dog of any
breed if it is a service
for a handicapped unit owner. (So, if your emotional support animal is a breed
that is being discriminated against, Citizens for
Pets in Condos suggests you look into
getting your animal certified as a
= = = = = = =
has recently retracted his previous statements. In Evading no-pet restriction tougher, Palm Beach Post,
04/07/2009, he claims that
actuallyh getting more difficult for associations to ban animals (AFTER the
new HUD regulations in 2008). The north Florida case that he cites
in this 4/7/09 column is being challenged in the
courts favor of the dog owner.
According to our legal advisors, the case in north Florida was NOT a sign of the pendulum swinging back to tougher
handling of pets in condos
rather an indication that emotional support animals are not pets according to the law.
Facts of the case that was referenced are that:
1) Booster's owner had first lobbied the Association to keep the Animal as a "Pet" ,
2) All medical evidence of need of the "pet" as a service animal was gathered after filing litigation, not before the
request was presented to the
before acquiring or owning the pet in the first place.
3) Therefore, the Court seemed to believe that he was using this only to keep a pet, not a service animal.
= = = = = = =
A handout from the Center for Independent Living of Broward statement on Companion and Emotional Support Animals
(see link: http://www.petsincondos.org/CILBroward.html) makes it clear, among other things, that no special training
is required for companion and emotional support animals.
"Emotional support animals don’t need to have “task specific” training that supports the disabled person and are therefore
ifferent from service animals. It's the animal's presence that contributes to the person's welfare. They don't have the
same rights to public access as service animals. In most states, tenants have the right to an emotional support animals
when there is a clear link between a medical condition and the animal's presence, even in housing with "no pet" policies.
Medical documentation that shows a link between the animal’s presence and the health of the individual is usually required."
service animals are considered assistive aids. The relevant federal
laws that are applicable are:
The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Americans with
Disabilities Act, Title II
The relevant Florida laws are Section 413.08(6) to allow
support animals and Sections 413.081(1), 775.082 and775.083
to define penalties
for not allowing support animals. Furthermore, Florida Statute 760.23 says
unlawful to discriminate
against persons with handicaps.
Discrimination includes "A refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules,
practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to
such person equal opportunity to use and
enjoy a dwelling." (These
laws cover emotional/mental as well as
physical disabilities.) 760.23 was
applied in this case.
Federal disability law says that helper animals
must be allowed if you obtain a letter from a medical doctor
saying you need
animal to "ameliorate and help with life functions."
Click here for definitions of
different types of assistive animals, including emotional support animals.
Furthermore, an assistive animal does NOT need specialized training to ameliorate a specific emotional illness. Just
with a pet can help alleviate stress, anxiety and depression.
See more on the health
benefits of companion animals.
According to Dr.
Virgil Rizzo, former state of Florida Condo Ombudsman, "A condo board
rules that are
in conflict with the law. A note from any qualified
doctor, a psychologist (PhD)
medical doctor will suffice."
Director of the Palm Beach
County Office of Equal Opportunity says that "About nine out of 12 cases are
in favor of the
keeping the pet
-- a support or service animal
-- based upon the findings of a physician or
Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, disabled individuals have a legal right
to an "assistance animal"
in their home,
despite any "no pet" policy. The law
extends to homeowners and renters in all 50 states,
and protects people with
both physical and mental disabilities (including depression). For information on
file a free housing
discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development,
You can also go to any local Fair
Housing Assistance Partner, usually
one per county. In south Florida, for example, you can go to the Broward County Civil Rights Division, the
Miami-Dade County Equal Opportunity Board (MDCEOB) or the Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity.
Virgil Rizzo said, "If
a service animal or a pet is a “necessary or reasonable accommodation” for a
person’s disability it
may be allowed to remain with a unit owner under the
Federal Fair Housing Act and Americans With Disabilities Act.
The unit owner
must have a letter from his or her physician that clearly states that their
pet is absolutely necessary
for that person’s well being, medical health and
condition and that the presence of the pet is necessarily and directly
to that persons medical disability, well being, and medical health and without
the pet that person’s health
would deteriorate and be seriously compromised."
“Refusal to make
reasonable accommodations in rules, policies or practices, when such
accommodations may be
necessary to afford such a person equal opportunity to
use and enjoy a dwelling is prohibited.” (42 U.S.C. 3604).
Fair Housing Act case law indicates that "emotional
support" or "therapeutic" animals are recognized as "service" or "assistance
animals" and should
be permitted to stay on a property despite a "no pets"
policy. Such an animal is not a pet. Therefore, the accommodation is to
exempt a disabled tenant
or owner from the policy. The reasonable
accommodation is based on the Fair Housing Act's provisions that prohibit
discrimination based on disability.
Home owner association or board policies
are superceded by Federal, State, and/or local ordinances. -- Diego
Demaya, Legal Specialist, Disability Law
Resource Project (DLRP)
federal, state, and local fair housing laws, a housing provider must make
in rules, services, or practices to afford a "disabled
individual" equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling
unit as if he or she
had no disability. For more information, review the federal Fair Housing
of 1988, Florida Statutes section 413.08, and county
Robert M. Burrell,727-517-3989,
attorney who practices
pet and animal law in Florida.
article by Robert M. Burrell on Pet
Support Animals and Waiver of "No Pets"Rules
Ensuring a "Yes-Pets" Rule
Keeping pets in private retirement and sheltered housing, a Good Practice Guide (UK) - some sensible advice from our
friends in Great Britain.
In Broward County, Florida, Commissioners Dale Holness and Lois Wexler sponsored an ordinance amending Broward County's Human Rights Act. The amendment states that if an application for housing is denied by a homeowners', condominium or cooperative association in Broward County, the applicant will receive a written notice explaining the reason for the denial within forty five days of the filing. Applicants must also be notified if their application is not properly filled out within fifteen days of the application date.
Resources from Animal Legal Defense Fund:
No Pets Allowed: Housing Issues and Companion Animals
Additional case law can be found here: http://animallaw.info/cases/statecases/causcaset.htm
For a full discussion of your legal rights and responsibilities as the guardian of a companion animal, an excellent resource book is "Every Dog’s Legal Guide:
A Must-Have Book for Your Owners," by Mary Randolph. Written for non-lawyers, it's a helpful book on a variety of legal issues relating to canine companions.
It's available for purchase from Nolo Press.
“The Joint Statement of The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice – Reasonable Accommodations under
the Fair Housing Act,"states:
“…Courts have applied the Act to individual, corporations, associations and others involved in the provision of housing and residential lending, including
property owners, housing managers, homeowners and condominium associations lenders, real estate agents, and brokerage services…”
“The Act defines a person with a disability to include (1) individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limit one or mor major life
activities; (2) individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment; and (3) individuals with a record of such an impairment…”
Click here to read: WHAT “FAIR HOUSING” MEANS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The legal status of pets when the owners/guardians become deceased is one of the issues involved in getting people to accept pets in 55+
According to Animal Legal and Historical Center, 39 states (including Florida) have enacted Companion Animal (Pet)
Read more about this issue in our Issues and Answers section. Also check out this resource: http://www.estateplanningforpets.com/,
which has a sample pet trust document.
official position of AARP (American
Association of Retired Persons) on pets:
The federal Fair Housing Act
requires that animals be allowed as a reasonable accommodation for people who
have a disability that requires such an
animal. For example, a visually
impaired person may have a service animal. Somewhat less established is
the right of a person with a mental
to have a companion animal.
"...AARP understands that
[Emotional Support Animals] is an important issue for our members. Our
policy book recognizes the many benefits of
a companion pet for those 50
and older, such as improving both their physical and mental health. AARP
feels that state and local
promote policies that allow pets
in housing, as long as they are subject to appropriate rules and regulations
- Laura Cantwell, AARP Florida Program
Every Dog's Legal Guide: A Must Have Book for Your
Owner by Mary Randolph
Ensuring a "Yes-Pets"
Rule - reprinted from the
American Bar Association's "ABA-TIPS Animal Law Committee Newsletter" (Spring
You can either view or order a print
copy of the "Best Friends for Life" booklet from
Doris Day Animal
goes into a lot of detail about pet guardianship laws
covering your right to have an animal companion in various kinds
situations. Go to
http://www.ddal.org/pubs/bestfriends/. (Read more
about this publication here.)
If you need the free viewer to
read the online .pdf version, you can download it from
Citizens for Pets in
Condos is all about making changes so you don't have to be considered
sick to do something
that is entirely normal - have an animal companion for all
of the many benefits it could have.
California Civil Code Section 1360.50, signed into law in 2000 and effective
Jan 2001> states that:
governing documents shall prohibit an owner of a
separate interest within a common interest development from keeping at least
one pet within
the common interest development subject to reasonable rules
and regulations of the association." The law also applies to mobile home
Under California law, "governing documents," by the way, includes
In Fair Employment Housing Commission
v Auburn Woods I, a California Appeals court established the
"companion animal" principle, namely:
companion animals are as vital to the
emotional health of their owners as service dogs are to the physical well-being
of persons with disabilities.
principle was re-stated in the press release
by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing after the Appellate ruling.
Delaware has a law, which says that the elderly and disabled renters must be allowed to have one pet.
In 2006, ASPCA advocates
supported a bill in New Jersey to make more animal-friendly housing available.