Board deny’s request to allow therapy pet

A.M. writes:

Dear Paul:
I have just moved into a multi-story condominium complex. I suffer from extreme anxiety attacks that happen unexpectedly. Doctors have been unable to find the trigger. However, we have discovered that my mini Shiatsu can sense when I am about to have an attack, alert me, and I can avoid the episode by deep breathing exercises before it takes over. I received a letter from the Board indicating that the Bylaws do not allow pets in the building and that I have ninety days to get rid of the dog or move. I am not prepared to do either. What am I to do?

Paul replies:

Dear A.M.:
I am sorry that you find yourself in this predicament. The Condo Corporation and your real estate agent should have made you aware of this restriction before you purchased your unit. A condo corporation is allowed to have a no pet rule and to enforce such a rule. At present, you may ask your doctor to provide you with a letter that your Shitsu’s ability to detect an oncoming attack and alert you, is critical to your well-being. Armed with the Doctor’s letter, you could make a plea to the Board to make an exception because you were not made aware of the restriction. The Board may still hold to its position by saying it is up to the buyer to be aware of what they agree to. Failing the Board’s compassion, you could file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging discrimination based on disability. Such action could take a long time to go through the system and cost a lot of money in legal fees. Since the Board gave you a deadline for compliance, you may have moved by the time your case gets to the top of the line. Good luck!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Paul

    This is a great question. A guide dog commonly referred to as a seeing-eye dog has received extensive training to perform the tasks needed to care for its owner. In addition, the seeing-eye dog has garnered special recognition under the law, Human Rights Codes to be more precise and it is prohibited to deny one access to establishments that might otherwise ban animals from their premises. Condos cannot refuse guide dogs. Yes, there are other animals that may be considered of service but each case must be considered on its own merits. Animals that are considered as therapy companions have usually not received extensive training, nor recognized as legitimate unless it can be objectively demonstrated that it can perform the tasks required. This may be done through observation by a specialist, such as a physician, who is qualified to make the determination that the owner’s well-being would be at risk without the therapy dog. With a quick search on the internet, a person can purchase a vest emblazoned with the words: “therapy dog” along with an official-looking certificate for Fido. Thanks for the question.

  2. claire

    I was wondering if you can comment on the difference between a therapy dog (a dog that alerts for anxiety attacks) versus a guide dog for the blind? Would the condo still be able to refuse a guide dog?

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