Harrassed by neighbor over my approved service dog, need legal advice?

I have been prescribed by my psych doc & therapist to have a service dog to help my depression and social anxiety panic disorder. Since I have gotten her my life has changed dramatically for the better. With that said, the owner of my apt was given the necessary paperwork and approved my service dog. After having her for about a month my neighbor who works graveyard complained that she can hear the dog pacing in the bathroom and hallway and barking while I am at work. I kept the dog in this small area because she was still being potty trained. Respectfully I went to my neighbor, apologized, worked with the dog on the barking with a trainer and took her to day care most days. Even when I apologized the neighbor was very rude stating "you're not supposed to have a dog anyways! A week later I injured my arm was home on disablity putting together a cabinet, the neighbor complained I was waking him up. A few days later, after returning from the dog park less than 30 mins after the police were at my door because the neighbor called and said I was walking too hard. I took the police to the apt managers door and she began to reprimand me about controlling my dog running around when that isn't what the police were there for. I asked the apt manager to arrange for myself, her, and the tenant to talk, this never happened instead she hands me a note on christmas eve from the owner stating I am in violation of my lease and that the neighbor says my dog is running around barking and crying at 1:00 am. This issue has had me in tears. Its not fair, I am a quiet student who doesn't bother anyone and just returned home to my apt manager stating they are complaining tonight they could hear the dog walking and whining. My dog by the way is a 7lb poodle and I have carpet throughout my apt. I want to move because I don't want to fight emotionally I don't have it in me. I do think this is harrassment and the apt manager is siding with the tenant with no proof. Please advise someone help!


HCHERYL
  • <cite class="sig">MARYANNA Luescher</cite>

    First, psychiatric service dogs ARE service dogs – not emotional support animals – and ARE covered under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). There is no legal registry required by federal law that makes one a "real" service dog. And small "lap dogs" can be service dogs, regardless of some peoples prejudice against them.

    And first, before you read further, make sure it IS a service dog. Most therapists, mental health professionals and Dr's don't have a clue what the qualifications are to have a service dog. A doctors note can't get you a SD if you're unqualified. So first, lets review the law:

    Service dog (SD): You must be disabled to have one. Must be specifically trained to perform a task, that the handler cannot perform themselves, that mitigates their disability. Is permitted to accompany the handler into no pets businesses, facilities and generally anywhere the public can go.

    Emotional Support Animals (ESA): You must be disabled to have one. Does NOT have to be specifically trained to perform any task. Provides comfort, companionship and support through it's mere presence. Is not afforded public access. Only given special consideration in no pets housing and flying in cabin in a plane.

    Disabled is by ADA standards – NOT your Dr's opinion. The disability must substantially effect a major life activity in every day life. For Psychiatric service dogs, the psychiatric disability would have to be very severe to make daily living a struggle, even with medication. According to the ADA and NIMH (National Institute of Metal Health:

    "It is not enough to have a mental illness to qualify as a person with a disability under the ADA. According to the NIMH, 26.2% of adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental illness in any given year, but only 6% are severely mentally ill. So more than three quarters of those with a diagnosed mental illness are not disabled by that illness and would not qualify to use a service animal even if they would benefit from one."

    Service dogs and ESA's must behave and cannot be a nuisance. They cannot bark excessively. Service dogs are supposed to accompany their handler wherever they go, so barking while left alone isn't usually an issue. For ESA's it can be and needs to be immediately corrected. Obviously they can walk – if she can hear a 7lb dog through the ceiling, that just says how shoddy the construction is. Saying that, it seems like the neighbor wanted a dog, got turned down and is now Pissed you got one and is hell bent on making sure you can't have one either.

    ESA or Service Dog, the management already approved it's presence there. It's their responsibility to explain to your neighbor that you have a right to have the dog.

    Although I'm not a lawyer, I investigate fake service dogs and file charges against people who have them, and this is what I would do.

    A: Set up a webcam camera on your computer and record your dog while your gone. Watch the tape later and see if it's actually barking. If it's not, save the files for future proof if the courts get involved. If it does, do whatever is necessary to stop the behavior. Citronella bark collars work and they make shock collars for small dogs.

    B: Send a registered letter to the apartment manager and owner, stating your neighbor is unjustifiably harassing you. State you have a federal right to have your service dog and it was approved by them in advance. Inform them that you have proof that the dog isn't barking. State that you feel the neighbor is jealous that you have a dog and instead of just agreeing with her, they need to back up your federal right to have the dog. Let them know that the harassment is aggravating your disability. State that if it doesn't stop IMMEDIATELY you will be forced to file an injunction against harassment against her – something you do not want to do. Tell them you will also file a discrimination complaint with the housing authority and the Attorney General's office against then if it doesn't stop IMMEDIATELY.

    C. If it doesn't stop IMMEDIATELY, file an injunction against harassment against the neighbor. Demand the police arrest her if she breaks it.

    E. Start writing down every and all problems you have with the neighbor, even if they're not serous enough to have broken the injunction against harassment. Send it by registered letter to the management every two weeks. Tell them it's just to inform them of the harassment you are receiving.

    F. Just in case things don't improve, start looking for a new apartment. In the end, it may be better for your mental health to just move.

    Good luck.

  • <cite class="sig">ANNETTBoersma</cite>

    first of all , is your dog a registered service dog? I think not… if it were it would be a well behaved animal… IF you are potty training it it is NOT a registered service dog… Just because you want a dog with you to help you cope with the world , doesn't mean you can use ANY dog. You need to get a dog that is even tempered, TRAINED, and not a pain to others… YOu have NO right to take just any dog and use it like a service dog… You need to do a bit of research into what is required of YOU in getting that dog. The laws haven't kept up and people like you bringing any dog with any temperament and saying it is a service dog does a diservice to people that have gone to the trouble of complying with standards of dogs. The next person that tries to bring a real well behaved service dog to your apt building will be turned away .think of them.. do you want to make it HARDER for people that need dogs? A dog for service must be aloof and make no notice of people or other dogs. they must be quiet and well behaved at ALL times.. You also have a responsibility to exercise the dog every day, to keep it calm and you are not doing it.. The dog is showing it is not being taken care of. A service dog needs to get out and run and burn off extra energy.. that is your responsiblity. IF you don't let take them out everyday and burn off the energy it will pace and bark etc. You have no right to say the dog is a service dog if it is not of even temperament and wll trained already.. You have a wantabee service dog..
    What exactly did the dr say? that "sure if you think a dog will help , I will write a letter' shame onthat doctor… there are dogs and there are well behaved service dogs…. There are milions of people that would cope better, orFEEL better with their dog with them at all times… it doesn't mean they have a right to bring them with them everywhere…. If your dog is ill behaved your neighbor has a right to complain.. You need to rethink this and do some research into WHAT kind of dogs are acceptable… I was in a grocery store and a woman had a dog (tiny lap dog, in the cart) and she claimed it was a service dog.. It was a reactive badly behaved animal, it barked at everyone that came anywhere witin 30 ft of it, growled and was a pain and quite a shock to other shoppers…. she did NOT have a legitimate service dog. You could be fined for taking the dog where it doesn't belong and having it bother others…think about it.

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