Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Battle Brews Over Assistance/Emotional Support Animal; Dog Owner: 'She's The Child I Never Had. I Don’t Know What I'd Do Without Her!' HOA: Unit Owner Is Trying To Strong-Arm That Pooch Down Our Throats Without First Following Co-Op Procedures!

In New York City, the New York Post reports:

  • A cuddly cockapoo trained to fetch meds for her master — a Manhattan woman who suffers from post-9/11 posttraumatic stress disorder — may get them both evicted because of her building’s stringent no-pet policy.

    The 14-pound, black-and-white pooch, Ruby, was prescribed to Amy Eisenberg, 56, by her doctor to alleviate her illness.

    “I watched a man plummet to his death, and I can tell you from his suit to his striped tie to his white shirt, and I watched him spiral down,” Eisenberg, her eyes welling with tears, told The Post yesterday.

    “Ruby’s my fur baby,” Eisenberg said. “She’s the reason I get up in the morning. “She is the child I never had. I don’t know what I would do without her.”

    When Eisenberg suffers a heart palpitation from the stress, Ruby springs into action, lying across her lap and even delivering pills if the attack is severe.

    Still, the co-op’s management company filed an eviction proceeding against Eisenberg in 2012, claiming she was “harboring a dog” without written permission.

    Eisenberg’s doctor, Raymond Keller, said in a letter filed in Housing Court that “the presence of the dog is necessary for the emotional health of this patient.’’

    But a lawyer for the Lower East Side housing complex recently argued that Eisenberg hasn’t proved that she is disabled, despite the doctor’s letter and documents from the Health Department saying Ruby is her service dog.

    “I don’t understand how it could not be an ailment, especially after 9/11,” Eisenberg told The Post.

    Co-op attorney Bradley Silverbush doesn’t believe Eisenberg is really ill, and said she didn’t call Ruby a service dog until after getting the eviction notice.

    “Mrs. Eisenberg is trying to strong-arm the co-op by forcing them to accept her dog when she didn’t follow procedures,” he said.

    Eisenberg was working near the Twin Towers as an executive assistant at a financial firm on 9/11.

    She has filed a discrimination complaint with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, saying that she should be able to keep the dog in her apartment under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Eisenberg has lived at East River Housing on Grand Street since 1966. She’s due back in Housing Court to start a trial Aug. 14.

(1) The inability or refusal to make the distinction between a household pet and either a service animal or an emotional support/assistance animal can give rise to a very costly legal problem for landlords, homeowner associations, municipalities purporting to enforce code restrictions, etc. Both the Housing Feds, the Civil Rights Feds, and others have shown a high degree of interest when these situations arise. See, for example:
See, generally, A Comparative Study: Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act & An Overview of Assistance Animal Laws of Select States.

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