Emotional Support Animal...that's a Pit Bull Mix

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Originally posted by @David Adams :

@Matt M.

You can have the tenant purchase pet insurance specific for that dog and have you listed as additional insured . Insurance is pretty cheap . I think that solves your problem

As I understand from insurance professionals, as "additional insured", you will not know if they cancel the insurance on you.  If you are listed as "additional interest", the carrier must notify you if the policy is cancelled.  As others have said, it is really risky since they can cancel the policy yet squat in your property, making you vulnerable to a suit.  And even if you are covered, remember it always costs you time and energy to have an insurance carrier defend you in a lawsuit you may win in the long run.

Originally posted by @Wendy Stclair :

@Daniel Mears may I suggest that pit bulls are not bad, they really get a bad wrap. I’ve met some amazingly sweet and even docile pits. Depending on where you live in the US your local town may have demonized them. Denver was like that. I was afraid for a long time. Now in california it’s not an issue and honestly I’ve seen the light. 

You can suggest all you like but you'd still be wrong. There is a reason Pits are demonized. They account for 65% of bites in the US while being only 5.8% of the canine population. Their bites are also more deadly than those of other breeds. The median injury of the bites is more severe. They often attack unprovoked and go off property to attack.

Here are links to studies supporting the above: 



I'm not sure of the insurance angle either. But I would definitely have to see And hear from the Dr. themselves and have any documentation notarized.

My daughter and her significant other got 3 of them and they have had 2 biting issues with humans, 3+ within the pack (one is old) and 1 where they attacked someone else’s dog.

I don’t know how they escaped lawsuits and seizure of these Pit bulls but somehow they have.

The dogs are sweet most of the time but they require strong pack leadership, a ton of exercise and can be triggered suddenly and without warning. Because they are so strong, the damage they can do is intense.

My brother had one.  IT was older, female, and the sweetest dog you could ask for...until it was not!  One day it just decided to bite and locked her jaws.  IT was bad, and luckily no one died, but it was horrid.  Then the next minute when her mouth was empty she is rubbing against people, and so calm and nice and sweet.  But I would never trust her again.  My brother just said, 'well something got to her because she is not like that!."  But she was like that.  The unpredictability is worrisome as well as how hard she could lock her jaws, and not respond to people.

Anywhere a “pit mom” goes neck tattoos, meth smoke and DSS are never far behind! Don’t reject her, just choose someone else.

@Will Gaston regarding the renters insurance. If the tenant has a dog, i always ask to either have them send me a copy of their policy to check or I send them to the same state farm agent i use who can write a renters insurance policy without a breed exclusion.

Originally posted by @Will Gaston :


I've got a well qualified tenant that I would love have...except she has an ESA that happens to be a pit bull mix. I'm fine with the ESA but I think my insurance won't be fine with the dog.

Waiting to hear back from my insurance agent but I'm 99% sure he's going to said it's not allowed.

Any insurance agents or PMs know the ruling on this? @Joe Splitrock any ideas?

 Sorry for the late response. My insurance provider does not accept Pit Bull, so I let people know it is a prohibited breed. I can't change insurance carriers because it affects my blanket liability policy. My liability policy is only effective if my insurance company is insuring the property. When I tell people this, they understand. 

I would also check the paperwork being provided. Ask for the name / phone number/ email of the medical professional who is treating her. Reach out to them directly to verify they are treating her for a condition and that a Pit Bull is required. Applicants usually provide online certificates, which you are not required to take. I also would make sure the doctor/psychologist puts something in writing stating "(1) Pit Bull" is required for treatment. 

Having a disability is not within your control, but the breed of dog you choose to treat such condition is 100% their choice. ESA are prescribed to treat mental disorders, so I question why someone with a mental disorder would intentionally get a breed that they know will cause problems. It speaks to the personality / attitude of the person. 

Everyone should keep in mind this is a business decision and has nothing to do with personal feelings about Pit Bull. Most Pit Bull and dogs in general are sweet and loving to their owners. ANY dog can bite when they feel threatened. The difference with Pit Bull is their strength, which gives them ability to do more harm. It is not that Pit Bull bite more often than any other breed, it is that when they do bit, the damage is more serious. It often requires rehabilitation or even plastic surgery, so the dollars associated with the insurance claims are higher.

Got two sisters both with Emotional support Cats. Do not want to get sued by other Tenants who claim to be allergic and courts tend to rule against landlords should I refuse to rent to them? or File as an Alergin free Property. Hate cat's smell and the damage they cause to apartments. Too many parasites in apartment-like Toxoplasmosis do not want it. Can I ask them to take cats to the Vet and get them vaccinated first so we don't start spreading the Toxoplasmosis parasite?

It is not unreasonable to require a cat (or dog) be vaccinated, including for rabies.  This applies to ESA animals also.  In some cases landlords require only spayed or neutered animals, ESA or not.  This is especially true with male cats.  Cats require a high protein diet; their urine can have a significant odor and it is worse with an unneutered male cat that sprays to mark territory.

Thanks, Gail K. after hearing the CDC list Cats as probable spreaders to the 40 million people now infected with the Toxoplasmosis parasite. and knowing it can cause Schizophrenia and brain infections if left untreated just do not want someone with violent Rage Disorders living in our Apartments thinks I'll go through the motions in court to declare the Building Allergen free even if I lost a couple of months rent. then will not have to find plumbers or electricians not allergic to cats. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/...

As an apparent bad guy, I'm very thankful that there are so many people that are apparently willing to work with people in this situation.  I'd do anything and everything to find a different tenant, so it's great to know that they'll be able to find a place from one of y'all anyway.  Makes me twice as quick to say 'no'... errr, I mean, "Sorry, I found a more qualified candidate" when I'm next confronted with something like this.

@Nathan G. Agreed. If the animal is a certified service animal, they will have a letter from an MD (NOT a therapist or counselor) and will have the disability noted for which the animal is needed. The MD who signs the letter will also be in the same state as they rental unit being applied for.

Originally posted by @Chris John :

@Nathan G. and @Jerry Hill

And, I'm totally guessing here because I honestly don't know, but they probably won't be a pit bull.

 Unfortunately, you would be wrong. The law allows an emotional support animal to be any common household animal. It does not restrict breed or size.

Another misconception: the animal does not need to be prescribed by a doctor. It can be prescribed by a counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. The letter does not need to state why the animal is prescribed because that would be a violation of the patient's privacy. What the letter should state is that the individual is being treated by the provider and that the animal was prescribed to help them with a disability.

You are not allowed to ask what the disability is. There should only be one animal prescribed per disability, so an applicant cannot claim three dogs for their depression. They could have one dog for depression and a second dog for alerting them to oncoming seizures. The letter should also be recent, usually within the last 12 months. I had one applicant attempt to present a letter that was 10 years old and written by a doctor in the Philippines!

this is a very complex law and it is increasingly abused by more and more tenants. Based on my personal experience, I would estimate over 90% of these emotional support animals are unnecessary, just like animals flying on planes. It's easy to get a prescription, just like it's easy to get a prescription for Prozac or Ambien. Because emotional support animals are increasingly common in the law is difficult to navigate, I highly recommend every landlord consider using petscreening.com. The service is free for the landlord. You create an account and then send applicants to your landing page to complete the application process. Is $20 for the first animal, $15 for subsequent animals. They have to enter in details of the animal, vaccine records, pictures, etc If they have a service animal, there is no application fee charged but they do have to provide the prescription letter and other necessary evidence. Pet screening does an excellent job of stopping the fraud. Many fraudulent tenants will not even bother applying because they know they will be screened so it significantly reduces the number of bad applicants.

@Nathan G.

I'm sorry for the confusion.  My comment was in regards to @Jerry Hill 's comment about service dogs and not the emotional support animal conversation.  Again, I could be wrong on my guess because although I haven't seen a pit bull service dog yet, that certainly doesn't mean there isn't any...  I'd be way more inclined to try to work with a pit service dog over an emotional support dog though.

both of these tenants claim to need their cats as support animals and both bought certificates off the same internet website claiming they need them. id never heard of Support cats just crazy cat ladies. Can I ask for a county animal license like Dog owners would buy?

Check your states landlord/ tenant laws? In California you can not legally deny someone that has an ESA animal. My first tenants had two pit bulls as ESA animals, are insurance was also hesitant but we made the tenants have maximum coverage insurance for the dogs and we had them on our insurance as well. The tenant should have pets insurance, and they should provide it to you so you can show your insurance agent. 

It seems like at least half of the inquiries I get have ESA. That’s one reason why as my properties turn over I’m moving away from self management and handing them over to my property manager. A good property manager knows how to follow the law and still skirt around the thorny issues. For my part I want to provide safe, clean and modern properties that are well maintained, and just want tenants that take care of them and pay rent timely. No BS, no drama and no viscous breeds or nuisance pets.   

You should have written rules concerning ESA animals. There are several insurance lists of excluded animals and put which animals are excluded. The ESA prescription has to be by someone who has prescription powers and is only good for one year. I require a pet application telling me about the animal and vet letter or records showing everything is up to date on the animal. Most people don’t jump through the requirements or when they realize I’m not a public housing place and don’t have to allow a pit pull or other high bite breed move on. My houses usually rent in a week and these people 9/10 times are the type not to quickly get their act together. The vast majority of these people their ESA doesn’t pass scrutiny when really looked at.

@Nathan G. I made a denial under this same pretense that changing insurance companies was not a reasonable accommodation.

I was meet with a letter from the prospective tenants attorney and fair housing within 24 hours. Yes, unfortunately they can expect you to find an insurance carrier that covers pit bulls, which is what I had to do after getting my own legal counsel.

Sad to be said, but landlords hands are tired whenever we are dealing with ES animals.