‘Emotional support’ dog too big for apartment, owner says – Daily Tribune

Q: I own a small apartment complex. I allow my tenants to keep small dogs (up to 25 pounds). I recently found out that one of my tenants violates the “small dog” policy in a big way: he has a 160 pound Newfoundland named Riley. Another tenant told me that the dog barks while its owner is away. I spoke to the landlord of Newfie and told him he was breaking his lease. I told him he either had to find another place to live or find a new home for his dog. He said Riley is an emotional support animal; he needs the dog to help him deal with severe anxiety. He said he had the right to keep the dog under the Fair Housing Act. Riley is a beautiful dog, but doesn’t my tenant have to prove that Riley is trained and needed? What are my options here?

A: First, we question your tenant’s decision to keep such a large dog in an apartment, no matter how much the dog helps him deal with anxiety. It’s not just for the dog! Newfoundlands are known for their gentle natures, but they are social dogs and can become anxious and unhappy if left alone – then they bark and whine (and can also become destructive).

However, this is not the topic at present. Before we get into how the tenant should handle barking and whining (and there are ways to help a dog adjust to his owner’s absence), your tenant must demonstrate that he has the right , under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), with one exception to your usual dog size rules. He must demonstrate that he is a person living with a disability and that the presence of the dog is reasonable and necessary to “allow [him] equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing” (42 USC Sec. 3604).