My dog is a service dog for both my heart problems and my panic disorder, and my landlord is trying to make me get rid of him due to the fact that no veterinarian we see can validate his breed. My landlord is threatening to evict us if we cannot prove what kind of dog he is, to see whether we can keep him or not. If he is a service dog with valid paperwork, does this matter?
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
It is not my understanding that a service dog has to be any particular breed, it is the training that matters under the ADA and the WLAD. If your landlord persists, please consider filing a fair housing complaint (this is discrimination against a person with a disability) with the City of Tacoma Human Rights Commission or the State, depending on whether you live inside the corporate boundaries of Tacoma, or not.
The Washington Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination against a person with a disability on the basis that you need a service animal in order to enjoy your housing opportunity. This law is in Title 49, "Employment". Don't ask me why its there, but it is there.
You can contact the City on Monday. You can contact a service group called "The Delta Society" in Bellevue regarding service animal issues and how to be sure you are compliant with the ADA and the WLAD. Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell
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Trademark Application Attorney
Your landlord cannot discriminate as to breed. The following is an excellent blog post by Julie Hofius Mills on Pit Bulls and the ADA: http://juliesmills.typepad.com/the_ada_titles_ii_and_iii/2013/01/pit-bulls-and-the-ada.html
You may wish to speak with a local attorney.
If we do not have a signed fee agreement I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice.
Family Law Attorney
Perhaps you live in a city or county that bans specific breeds of dogs. If so, the landlord may be trying to comply with the city or county ordinance.
I am not sure what will happen if there is a conflict between a city ordinance against specific dog breeds and discrimination laws.
It may be that the landlord (or city) is not saying you cannot have a service dog but that you cannot have a service dog that is a breed that is banned.
You should review your specific facts with your attorney to see what legal options you have.
Animal Law Attorney
Under the FHA, you are entitled to a reasonable accommodation. It doesn't matter what breed your dog is. Even if the ADA or Washington Law Against Discrimination were applicable in the context of housing, the regulations are clear that the breed should not be determinative. Your dog does not need to be registered as a service dog. Your landlord is entitled to a letter from your health care provider stating that:
You are disabled
Your support dog ameliorates your disability
You require your support animal to allow you an equal opportunity to use and enjoy your dwelling
If your landlord continues to threaten to evict you, you should consult an attorney.
This is not to be construed as legal advice. I do not have an attorney client relationship with you.