Right to Assistance Animals and Alternate Treatments

The cornerstone of Disability Rights is the right to self determination — which includes the right of each person to control his or her medical or lifestyle choices.  Disability Independence Group assists its clients to maintain this right and has been in the forefront of assisting its clients to own and use animals to lessen the effects of a disability, or to improve a person’s condition.

In conjunction with medical or mental health professionals, Disability Independence Groups works with our clients to request accommodations from their housing providers, employers or educational institution, and then advocates for our clients with interactions with the entity and, then, if necessary, file complaints in court or with the appropriate agency.

Governmental Guidance

New Florida Emotional Support Animal Law – Florida Statute Section 760.27 (if signed by Gov. DeSantis) prohibits discrimination in housing provided to persons with emotional support animals (the bill has not been signed as of March 22, 2020)

Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act. – On January 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published new guidance to provide both housing providers and persons with disabilities guidance on what is required to maintain an assistance animal in housing covered under the Fair Housing Act.

Air Carrier Access Act new guidance on animals on commercial air craft.

Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA | PDF This eight-page document guidance and answers questions about the ADA’s service animal provisions.

Revised ADA Requirements: Service Animals | PDF This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s new regulations.

“Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs” Department of Housing and Urban Development guidance on how the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) intersect regarding the use of service or assistance animals by persons with disabilities.

Assistance Animal Cases

Many Americans say living with an emotional support animal has done wonders for their mental health. Vayne Myers was threatened with eviction over Primadonna, the duck he keeps in his Florida home to help him with anxiety.

Vayne Meyers (Primadona) v. Oak Run Properties – Vayne Meyers needed his Emotional Support Duck, Primadonna.  We assisted in obtaining a Final Conciliation Agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that allowed Vayne to keep Primadonna.  The New York Times published a story about Vayne and his Emotional Support Duck.

Bhogaita v. Altamonte Heights Condo. Ass’n – Jury trial vindicating the right for a veteran with PTSD to have and use his service animal in his home and bars condominium from asking for irrelevant and over broad information

Sabal Palm Condos. of Pine Island Ridge Ass’n v. Fischer – Condominium who refused to allow a woman with Multiple Sclerosis from having and using a service animal

Falin v Condo. Assn. of LaMer Estates – Denial of Summary Judgment Motion allowing claim for an emotional support animal for a woman with Alzheimer’s

Alboniga v. School Board of Broward County, Florida – Injunction requiring Broward County Schools to allow a child to take his service dog to school (edited version)

 Blog Notes

Changes to Florida Statutes that Effect Civil Rights and Fair Housing in Florida – During the 2020 legislative session, there has been significant changes in statutes that prohibit discrimination in the State of Florida. These changes affect the way that civil rights claims are processed by the administrative agency that investigates such claims, the rights of claimants for they day in court, and it also changes how housing providers must ensure that their associations or properties comply with 55+ housing requirements, restrictive covenants, and how they evaluate accommodations for emotional support animals.

picture of a unicorn and a rainbow

What to do with your Emotional Support Unicorn? – HUD’s New Guidance on Assistance Animals – Analysis of the new guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Emotional Support Animals

A dog carries a flag

Florida’s New Service Animal Statute – Section 413.08 – An analysis of the new Florida law,  how it protects veterans with psychiatric service animals and all other disabilities.

Raymond Bishop, an 84 year old man, kneeling at a dock with sailboats behind him, with his two dogs, ranger and roxie at his knees

When Losing your Emotional Support Dogs is Too Much To Much to Bear – Raymond  Bishop was shot and killed on February 12, 2018. He was an  84 year old Marine who had five adult children and two dogs, Roxie and Ranger. On that day, Miami-Dade Police were called to his apartment in Homestead Florida. His social worker reported to the  police that Mr. Bishop was despondent because he thought that he, and his two dogs, were going to be forced out of his home.  When the police arrived at his unit, Raymond Bishop refused to drop his weapon.  After the police plead with him for three minutes, Mr. Bishop raised his pistol.  He was killed.

mutley and dick dasterdly in a plane (cartoon)

New Guidance on Emotional Support Animals for Air Carriers – What does it mean?- As a result of the many passengers who choose to bring their animals on aircraft, airlines have been establishing new guidelines without oversight or guidance from the Department of Transportation and their view of enforcement of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1988, which prohibits discrimination in air travel on the basis with disability.

Can Greyhounds be Emotional Support Animals? – Greyhounds are very friendly, affectionate, gentle, quiet, sweet, loyal, clean, loving, sensitive, trusting and good natured dogs that would make great emotional support animals.

Lucy, a black dog with parts of her face in white, laying down with her paws on top of a white sign that reads "All guests must be approved by the dog."

Office Animals for Wellness – The question for all persons who focus on wellness is how to maintain mental, spiritual, and physical balance when being besieged by crisis (both real and perceived) from all sides. In this issue, I give my answer – Lucy. To quote my favorite industrialist, Willie Wonka, – “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”

Kiddle’s Ordinance – How DIG helped Nancy Alfonso vindicate the rights of all users of service animals by ensuring that service animals have emergency care.

Kiddle Ordinance Passes in Hallandale Beach – By Michele Lazarow, Hallandale Beach Commissioner – If our first responders are able to take our human family members to hospitals during times of crisis, why shouldn’t our service animals be treated the same?

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Teacher with Multiple Sclerosis denied Service Dog in her own home – the story behind the Fischer case – how a woman with multiple sclerosis vindicated her right to have a service animal in her condominium. Settlement UPDATE – Sabal Palm Condominiums v. Fisher

The Trial Team

A veteran is permitted his support animal in his home – the story behind the Bhogaita case.

A six year old’s fight to have his seizure dog at school – The story behind the case above of six year old Anthony’s fight to keep his seizure alert dog at school.

Anthony wins his battle to keep Stevie at School!!! – On February 10, 2014, United States District Court Judge Beth Bloom ruled that Broward County School District violated Anthony Merchante’s rights, as a child with a disability, by denying his right to have a seizure alert animal accompany him at his elementary school.

Miami Herald: In fight over boy’s service dog, Broward school board is brought to heel

The Miami Herald’s video on Anthony and Stevie the Service Animal

Statement of Interest of the United States of America  on the interpretation on the ADA’s service dog regulation.

Mr. Pledger and his guide dog Joelle Pledger v. SAS Transportation – Jeff and Suzanne Pledger have been on a number of cruises, and on January 13, 2014, they flew into the Ft. Lauderdale Airport for a five day cruise departing out of the Port of Miami. Prior to the flight, the Pledgers contacted SAS Transportation, Inc. for transportation to the cruise ship and, as a courtesy, they disclosed to the transportation company that there would be a service dog included in the requested trip. The owner of the transportation services declined the transportation request because there is no room on the vehicle for a service dog and it would make other passengers uncomfortable.

 

Human-Animal Interaction – Can it prevent disease.

Teller v. The Cove Condominium Assn. – “The Cuddle Effect” – Cuddles, the Persian cat, was worth a million dollars to Izak Teller and his wife, Barbara. Because of Cuddles, they were rejected from the ability to live in a fully renovated unit overlooking the Intercostal in Palm Beach, and bought a less desirable unit that they were required to renovate. The matter settled, and the Tellers received a settlement of $275,000 to vindicate their rights under the Fair Housing Act.

A Landlord cannot force you to declaw your cat or charge additional amounts because of your emotional support animal! – Under the Fair Housing Act, rules, policies, or practices must be modified to permit the use of an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing when its use may be necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and the common areas of a dwelling.

Travelling with your Assistance Animal:

Jack Russell Terrier sitting holding a stick with a bindle (also known as a hobo stick)

Have dog will travel – Assistance animal basics

Dog Friendly Hotels

Taxis and Rental Cars and assistance animals

Cruising with your Service Animal

Flying with your Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal

 

 

Disclaimer: The facts and circumstances of your case or potential case may differ from the facts and circumstances of the cases appearing on this page.  Each case is different and must be evaluated and handled on its own merit.   The results provided in  above are  not necessarily representative of the results obtained in all cases.