Posts Tagged ‘service animals’

Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf!….

A federal jury in Detroit has awarded $300,000 in punitive damages and $14,209 in actual damages to Joyce Grad, saying the Royalwood cooperative apartment association in suburban Royal Oak violated her rights under the federal Fair Housing Act when it declined to waive its no-pets policy to permit her to bring in an emotional-assistance dog. Grad suffers from mental and emotional ailments that include severe depression. One of the services on which Ms. Grad has come to rely on the dog is in making sure she gets up in the morning: “I’ve trained her that if I don’t get up by 7, she is to go to [the] door and bark until help arrives.” Perfect for the neighbors! (David Ashenfelter, “Disabled woman’s dog has its day”, Detroit Free Press, Feb. 23). For more on the steady expansion of demands that legally protected status be accorded to “emotional-assistance” animals, see Oct. 25 and Dec. 2, 2004. For more cases in which disabled-rights-in-housing have led to noisy results, see Aug. 21-22, 2000 and Apr. 5-7, 2002.

He’s a therapy dog, Your Honor

That California trend (Oct. 25) toward getting a doctor’s note that characterizes a dog or other animal as a therapeutic “assistance pet”, entitled under disabled-rights law to be taken practically anyplace regardless of the wishes of shop owners or landlords, isn’t just in California anymore. Cases are cropping up in New York too, it seems. (Mark Fass, “Dog-as-Therapy Argument Doesn’t Sit Well With Judge”, New York Law Journal, Nov. 18).

A right to assistance pets

Under established disabled-rights law, store owners and other business people very seldom have a right to exclude the “service animals” that accompany blind and deaf visitors. Relatively few inconveniences ensue, in part because such animals tend to be few and extremely well trained. However, the idea has begun to catch on that persons disabled in other ways also have a right to the company of assistance animals; California regulators issued such a ruling as to dogs two years ago. Now a rapidly rising number of San Francisco residents are applying for tags for assistance dogs; the city has issued 658 tags for them. “‘The bottom line is that we’re seeing a lot of people come down here with notes from their doctors saying they need a companion dog to improve their quality of life,” said Carl Friedman, director of the city animal control agency. ‘Now we’re seeing a lot of people applying for the tags who have psychological issues.”’ Landlords and restaurants are not allowed to enforce no-dog policies against a registered animal. As for the pets’ required “training”, that “can be done by the owner and can be as simple as teaching the dog to wag a tail and lick a face if that’s what it takes to make someone with a diagnosed depression feel better.” (Rachel Gordon, “‘Assistance dog’ designation opens doors for pooches”, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 19). We were on to this trend very early: see Jul. 9, 1999.