I had two related questions about service/companion animals this week that I wanted to address.  As I have written many times before, professional apartment management does not charge a pet fee or pet rent for legitimate service or companion animals.  Similarly, we will waive a “no pets” policy for a service animal and recognize there are no breed restrictions.

That being said, the owner of a service animal remains responsible for the conduct and behavior of the animal (in most cases dogs, but not always).  Which includes cleaning up after the dog.  The law also requires the animal to be under the control of the owner.  This can typically occur using a harness, leash, or other tether.  However, in cases where either the owner is unable to hold a leash because of a disability or use of the leash would interfere with the service animal’s safe and effective performance of work or tasks, the animal still must be under the handler’s control by some other means, such as voice control.  “Under control” also means that a service animal should not be allowed to bark repeatedly in a hallway or other quiet place.  To be sure, if a dog barks just once, or barks because someone has provoked it, this would not necessarily mean that the dog is out of control.

The bottom line here is that the leasing office should work with residents who have service/companion animals as a part of the interactive process.  Remember, while management has an absolute obligation to meet the needs of our disabled residents with service/companion animals, we also cannot lose sight that our other residents and employees have rights as well.  And management cannot permit dogs (whether pets or service animals) that are out of control and which cause fear and/or distress to other residents and management team members.

Just A Thought.