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What do you do when your Condominium Association sends you a letter telling you to get rid of your pet?
(The following is the second of three parts. The first part discussed pets that are actually “service animals” protected by the Fair Labor Housing Act. This second second part discusses “emotional support” animals and the third will discuss ways to attack pet restrictions for normal household pets.)
We all know that being around are pets makes us happy. We love them and shower them with praise and affection and they return the favor with their own form of affection and most of all, loyalty. All of this helps us to relax, reduce stress, anxiety and depression. In much the same way, emotional support animals (ESA) assist people who have mental health- emotional disabilities or who have emotional components to serious physical conditions.
“An Emotional Support Animal is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides theraputic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life.”
( Service Dog Central, http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/256)
Florida Condominium Owners, Homowners and Cooperative owners all have the right to have an emotional support animal even in the face of “no pet” restrictions by the association. If a doctor determines that a patient with a disabling mental illness would benefit from the companionship of an emotional support animal, then the doctor may write a letter supporting a patient request to keep an ESA in a community association with “no pet” restrictions.
Unlike “service animals” ESA’s do not require any specific task training. In fact, there are new rules in place by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that apply to condominiums in florida and support the right to have ESA’s. According to the new HUD rules, “emotional support animals do not need training to ameliorate the effects of a person’s mental and emotional disabilities. Emotional support animals by their very nature, and without training, may relieve depression and anxiety, and/or help reduce stress-induced pain in persons with certain medical conditions affected by stress.” Moreover, there is no need for formal certification of the disability.The entire text of the new HUD rules can be found by clicking here.
It is important for you to lay the ground work for establishing your need for an ESA before you obtain the pet or at the very least before you start fighting with your association. By contacting a Florida Law Firm that specializes in representing Condominium owners, Homeowners or Cooperative owners you can discuss the best course of action for keeping your emotional support animal. For a free case evaluation contact The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim. We fight for the rights of condo owners, homeowners and cooperative owners.