Service dog question

9 Replies

I have a rent house I'm advertising right now.   As stated no big dogs,  no pit,  no pit mixes.   Guy send me a message asking" whatnot my pit is in training to be a service dog"

What should my response be?  My first instinct is,  if he's training,  he's not a service dog. 

If that is all he said and he didn't ask a question, I wouldn't get into a discussion about it at this point.  He hasn't seen the rental.  He hasn't passed any pre-screening about income, previous evictions or number of intended occupants.  It is premature to argue about the 'service animal' at this point.  Do you have a pre-screening question list?  If you respond at all, ask him your pre-screening questions.  He may fail basic screening and you would be wasting time on the service dog issue.  If the dog isn't a service dog yet, then it isn't a service dog yet.

I agree with Kathy. Even if he does apply, it is not a service animal until it meets the requirements and he proves it. He hasn't even applied yet so I wouldn't worry about it. Do your research and prepare. I question the entire thing because if he had a real service animal then he would probably already know the law.

The easiest protection is to contact your insurance company. If they will not accept dangerous breeds then you can't be forced to accept the pit bull because it is not a "reasonable accommodation." Ask them for something in writing to protect yourself.

Ive done quite a bit of research in this area as I work in a government facility and have seen all kinds of animals allowed  as Emotional Support Animals.  Service animals must be trained to perform a task. If they are not fully trained, they are not yet a service animal. Service animals are not breed restricted, but are restricted to dogs, and in some cases, horses. Emotional support animals, however, are not restricted as to species and are covered under the Fair Housing Laws.  If your applicant says he has a service dog in training, and you have a no pets policy, you should be okay to deny the application. Generally, the people who are raising/training the service animal are not the ones with the disability but simply preparing the animal for its future life as an assistance animal. I'd protect myself with very thorough notes. If the person states they have an emotional support animal, it is different and a bit harder to get around under the ADA. This is why you see people trying to board aircrafts with everything from peacocks to snakes!

Here's a good article I found about service animals 

https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-book...

And a funny video of the ESA peacock who was denied boarding recently on a United flight. 

http://video.foxnews.com/v/5723360032001/?#sp=show...

It will be interesting to see if the airlines are the ones to finally fight these easy to scam ESA laws!!

I would not reply to the message unless he persists. If he continues to message you then inform him that you do accept service dogs only. It is against the law to say you do not accept service dogs. By the time the dog is trained and has papers you will likely already have a tenant there so it will become a moot point. If not then he could also be disqualified on other grounds such as debt, income problems, etc.

I agree with Nathan. A lot of insurance companies wont cover some types of animals. Unless state laws says something  different, Emotional support animals are not covered by the ADA like the say a seeing eye dog. Like everyone has said, if its not trained yet then it does not qualify.  

Here is there link..     https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html

Be really friendly, say something like "We love to accommodate service or emotional support animals.  We have a form that can be added to the application process.  Fill it out and we can go from there."  We have yet to have a form filled out.  This applicant would figure out he is not qualified because it's not yet trained and it is not assisting him.

Here's the form:

FORM TO REQUEST AN ASSISTANCE ANIMAL

We are committed to granting reasonable accommodations when necessary to afford persons with disabilities the equal opportunity to use and enjoy our rental properties.

Under the Fair Housing Act, a person with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Reasonable accommodation may include waiving or varying pet polices and fees to allow an Assistance Animal. An Assistance Animal is an animal that does work or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support or other assistance that alleviates one or more symptom or effects of a person’s disability.

Please complete this form completely and return it to us. All information will be kept confidential, except as otherwise required by law.

Today’s Date: _______________________

Name of person with disability requesting accommodation: _____________________________

What is the species of animal? __________________________

Provide the name and physical description (size, color, weight, license) of the animal:

_______________________________________________________________________________

Does the animal perform work or do tasks because of the disability? _____________

If Yes, please provide a statement from a health or social service professional indicating that you have a disability and explaining how the animal is able to do work or perform tasks that alleviate one or more symptoms or effects of your disability.

If No, please provide a statement from a health or social service professional indicating that you have a disability and how the animal alleviates the symptoms or effects.

Please attach statement with any additional information and contract information for the professional completing the statement.

_______________________________________ _______________________

Signature of Person Making Request Date

_______________________________________ _______________________

Signature of Person with Disability Date

A word of caution, you are NOT allowed to ask WHY they need the ESA. You are only allowed to request proof of prescription of the emotional support animal.

I think a Pet fee or Deposit must be waived in the case of a service animal.

First of all, IF a dog is a service dog as a service dog is defined legally, you cannot discriminate based on breed. 

HOWEVER - a service dog in training does NOT have public access rights and I don't believe they yet have rights to no pet rentals while in training UNLESS they are with a dog trainer. I am not sure what your rights are as far as asking for confirmation about whether or not he is a trainer or not. It doesn't sound like he is - although disabled handlers do have the right to self train a dog for a public access test. 

You still have the right, regardless, to refuse a dog who shows signs of aggression or chaotic behaviour. Tenant is still liable for any damage. 

You can still ask for written confirmation from a physician that the person has a disability and requires the dog for that disability. 

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