J.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a high-rise condo with about 250 units on 14 floors. There is a building manager and staff on site. We have a rental unit in the building that has a few “20 somethings” in it that came into a pet-free building with 2 Rottweiler puppies, guessing a few weeks old, they weighed less than a few pounds. Supposedly, they are service animals.
The building manager let them know I need with a doctor’s note and now we have 2 100-pound plus dogs in a pet-free environment. I have 2 questions:
If they truly are service animals, how can it be since they were only weeks old when they got here?
Also, are 2 service animals allowed? I understand all about service dogs, but would not 1 per unit be sufficient?
Mister Condo replies:
J.D., you have waded into some dangerous waters here, my friend. To date, the courts have held that condominium associations cannot prevent service animals from abiding in units even if the association has a “no pet” policy. The building manager followed the proper protocol in requiring the note from the medical professional stating that these dogs are, in fact, service animals and not just pets. Once these dogs are documented as service animals, there is little the association can do to prevent them from living there.
In my opinion, this is an outrageous abuse of the classification of an animal as a service animal. There are many excellent examples of how certain animals truly assist their humans. No one would question a seeing-eye dog’s assistance to a blind resident. “Emotional Support Animals” or ESAs are much harder to identify. It has been argued that such animals lower their owner’s stress levels and, as such, are service animals. Unless the courts begin differentiating between classes of service animals, condominiums simply have to understand that there is a fairly simple way to circumvent their restrictions on “pets” since these service animals are not “pets”. Good luck!