Service (and/or companion) animals can and do perform important functions for their owners. Even if a property has a “no pets” policy, pursuant to an appropriate reasonable accommodation request (my preference is for the request to come in writing, but there is no requirement of a writing), a resident with a disability can get that policy waived. And at an apartment community which welcomes pets, a service animal owner will not have to pay the otherwise likely pet rent or associated fees. That part is simple. But, what happens when a service animal misbehaves or is not properly supervised by its owner?
I am assisting one property in which the owner of a service animal who lives on the fourth floor, permits the animal to urinate on the balcony (which then drips on the balcony below) as well as bark loudly all through the night. The resident has taken the position that because Fluffy (I made that name up) is a service animal, Fluffy does not have to comply with the rules of the community related to animals.
That is, of course, not the law. While professional apartment leasing office team members work to welcome service animals needed by our disabled residents, those animal owners still must ensure the animal behaves appropriately and is supervised. In my case, management has sent a handful of letters in an effort to get the owner to comply with our reasonable community rules related to animals. In extreme cases, service animal owners can be assessed costs of damage in excess of normal wear and tear and/or the owner will not be permitted to keep the offending animal if violations continue and the owner chooses not to work to get the animal into compliance. Again, this is not management failing to accommodate a request, but simply working to ensure the rights of all our valued residents are protected.
My hope is that by engaging in the interactive process now I can help solve a problem before it gets too far down the line.
Just A Thought.