A recent blog post on service animals has caused some readers to chastise your humble editor about the state of the law concerning service animals. To be sure, we here at the Fair Housing Defense blog want to get it right. Otherwise, what’s the point? That being said, I would probably vote against some of the colorful language in the comments as they are a little over the top and unnecessary. Like politics and religion, it seems service animal issues have touched a nerve. I guess that is good.
First, a little background. While reasonable accommodation requests seeking recognition for a service or companion animal are not rare, it is not a request that comes across my desk each week. What prompted the post was about 20 service animal requests submitted to a single community manager at one property – all about the same time. While I am certainly not implying that 20 residents at one community might not all make the same request for their respective legitimate disabilities all at the same time, I cannot rule out that at least some of these people wanted to avoid paying a pet deposit or monthly pet charge. Again, let me be clear that management should grant service animal reasonable accommodation requests when they arise in almost all circumstances.
To be sure, in the initial post I did not appropriately distinguish the difference between a service animal and a companion animal. And I should have. Again, that was not the purpose of the post, but some readers were correct to point out that formal training is not in the law, particularly for companion animals. Nevertheless, I do think it makes sense for service or companion animals to be well mannered in public.
Also, while I do think it makes good sense for a service or companion animal to be identified – for example, to reduce the number of children who might reach out to pet the animal, there is no requirement that it be done. I appreciate that correction.
Hope that straightens it out. To paraphrase Tony Kornheiser, I will try to do better next time.
Just A Thought.