Dear Fair Housing Lady,
Here at my community, we have a resident with a disability who needs a service dog (I get it); the resident needs to have the service dog accompany her to the fitness center (I get it); the resident thinks that the service dog should be allowed to work out (I don’t get it). This resident actually ties her service dog’s leash to the equipment and makes the dog trot for exercise! So my question is “Do we have to let the dog work out on the treadmill?” (Our community is in Las Vegas, and while what happens here is supposed to stay here, I have to ask!)
Sincerely, (I kid you not, DFHL, I did not make this up!)
Well, it is going to take me a while to get this mental vision out of my head; I am seeing that dog working out and I am seeing dogs playing poker. There is certainly no dull moment in the world of property management, is there?
The short answer to your question is “no”. The long answer (I always have a long answer – LOL) is that there is nothing in the FHA that speaks to a requirement to accommodate for the benefit of an animal. We accommodate (reasonably) for the benefit of a person with a disability. If this resident’s dog needs to be exercised (which for dogs is generally along the lines of a walk in the park or a game of fetch) then she can do that, or arrange for others to do that on her behalf. So, if you have a neurotic dog that must howl all night because of its anxiety disorder, a traumatized cat that can’t bear to use the litter box, or a boa constrictor that can’t cope with staying in its apartment (ah, the stories, the stories), you can address those issues. And you can tell this resident that she will have to keep her dog off of the exercise equipment
Let me tell you the 3 things that you can require of service animals (as long as you require these of pets as well):
1. The animals will need to see a veterinarian at least once a year and their owners need to provide you with documentation that this has been done and that shots and other possible requirements are up to date.
2. The animals must the housebroken. (I used to say “toilet trained”, which is actually possible – my grandmother toilet trained all of her cats, although they did not know how to flush.)
3. The animals must be spayed or neutered.
And while I have gone way beyond your question about an exercising dog, I also want to mention that you cannot require service animal cats to be declawed. There… now I am done.Google+
Category: Disability Accomodations