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Discussion Starter #1
This is an article from my local paper
Service dog dispute highlights common housing association issues | StarNewsOnline.com

I thought this would be an interesting read for you guys. I see a couple of problems with this article, but it could be (well, it likely is...)poor reporting.

To give some additional background, this is an area of a great many subdivisions and homeowner's associations are a popular target of criticism lately...

Curious as to what you all think--
 

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Interesting. It was my understanding that a therapy dog is *not* considered a Service Dog. Like you said, could be poor reporting, but the story doesn't really mention any act that the dog performs for the human. I think, personally, it's a hard case to say that making him not depressed is an "act" of a SD. My dog isn't a service dog and certainly makes me happy- as does pretty much every pet.

That said- this kind of BS is exactly the reason I will never live under a HOA. If it was/is a legitimate SD, then I am pretty sure those nosey people would have no right to inquire about it to the depth they have. Then again, there was a story in Texas where a HOA foreclosed on a soldier's paid for house over a very small fine... In my opinion, HOA's are the scum of the earth. I want nothing to do with them! This story just solidifies that thought.
 

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I just posted that article to the Facebook page that's part of my website/blog and also sent the journalist an email with some additional information to pass along to the family. The dog is, in fact, neither considered a Service Dog nor is he considered a Therapy Dog under the definition of the terms. What the dog is is an Emotional Support Animal or ESA.

Definitions

A Service Dog is a dog specifically trained to do at least three demonstrable (as in, on command) tasks for a person who is considered to be legally, and not just medically, disabled.

A Therapy Dog is the pet of its owner/handler who has been trained (and often certified and/or registered with an organization) to interact with people other than the owner/handler during scheduled visits to specific facilities, such as old folks' homes, schools, women's shelters, etc.

An Emotional Support Animal is the per of its owner/handler who is suffering from a disability, commonly depression, and has been prescribed or recommended by that person's doctor, usually with a letter.

The thing is, Emotional Support Animals DO HAVE special accommodation when it comes to housing under the Fair Housing Act, which means that the Homeowner's Association in this case would not be able to deny the dog if the dog was prescribed by the doctor and is serving the person as an Emotional Support Animal.

I sent the journalist who wrote the story some information on what the differences between ESA's and Service Dogs are, as well as a number of links on case law where people with ESA's have gone to court over housing discrimination, and a nice PDF presentation by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law that provides more information that would be useful for the family in this case. (That link is below.)

http://www.bazelon.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=mHq8GV0FI4c%3D&tabid=245
 

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I am on the fence on this one due to the limited information. I did notice that they rent from a townhome community. I am sure they were informed of the dog policy when they signed their lease.

The doctor did not really prescribe the dog. The letter was quoted as:
“Mr. Colon benefits significantly from his Canine Therapy Companion as a part of his depression treatment. I hope you will consider this when making any decisions related to his dog.”
That is far from a prescription. A suggestion is just a suggestion.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I just posted that article to the Facebook page that's part of my website/blog and also sent the journalist an email with some additional information to pass along to the family. The dog is, in fact, neither considered a Service Dog nor is he considered a Therapy Dog under the definition of the terms. What the dog is is an Emotional Support Animal or ESA.

Definitions

A Service Dog is a dog specifically trained to do at least three demonstrable (as in, on command) tasks for a person who is considered to be legally, and not just medically, disabled.

A Therapy Dog is the pet of its owner/handler who has been trained (and often certified and/or registered with an organization) to interact with people other than the owner/handler during scheduled visits to specific facilities, such as old folks' homes, schools, women's shelters, etc.

An Emotional Support Animal is the per of its owner/handler who is suffering from a disability, commonly depression, and has been prescribed or recommended by that person's doctor, usually with a letter.

The thing is, Emotional Support Animals DO HAVE special accommodation when it comes to housing under the Fair Housing Act, which means that the Homeowner's Association in this case would not be able to deny the dog if the dog was prescribed by the doctor and is serving the person as an Emotional Support Animal.

I sent the journalist who wrote the story some information on what the differences between ESA's and Service Dogs are, as well as a number of links on case law where people with ESA's have gone to court over housing discrimination, and a nice PDF presentation by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law that provides more information that would be useful for the family in this case. (That link is below.)

http://www.bazelon.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=mHq8GV0FI4c%3D&tabid=245
Thank you for contacting the "journalist". It would be nice if the research was done before the article was printed. :D

As for the other issues I had with this...There are millions of Americans on treatment for depression. Does the man have to prove DISABILITY due to depression? The letter from his doctor sounds like the doctor was asked for a letter and commented honestly about the man's situation to try and help. He probably did not feel comfortable going further. I think if the man has severe and debilitating depression he would be under the care of a psychiatrist, no? Why no letter from psych?
I feel sorry for the couple, I really do. They are going through a lot. Failing health is a tragic situation for an individual and their loved ones. But what exactly are the guidelines/ documents required in this situation?

I imagine also that this man wouldn't be given as hard a time if it weren't for the people that pretend their dogs are SD's in order to get into housing with them--as was discussed on earlier threads.
 

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I actually just received an email from the journalist today.

He told me that he used the term Service Dog in the article because that is the term the family is using to describe their dog, as a Service Dog. They probably do not know any better and he did some research but was having a hard time understanding the differences between Service Dogs and ESA's (which is now cleared up and explained).

He said he would pass the information on and asked whether he could contact me if he ever writes about Service Dogs / ESAs / Therapy Dogs in the future to make sure he gets it right. :)
 

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If the family uses the term service dog I wonder if the certification was one of the internet service dog training sites. Perhaps I am just being overly cynical but I would not be surprised if a journalist didn't understand the distinction, but a emotional support, therapy, or service dog owner should.
 

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If the family uses the term service dog I wonder if the certification was one of the internet service dog training sites.
Unfortunately, the photo that was with the article that shows the family and the dog only shows the back of the tag the dog is wearing. However, judging by the size and shape, it looks like it could be one of these --> Get a Service Dog Badge - Custom Service Dog ID
 
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