No City or State Can Prohibit You from Living with Your Service Animal under the Fair Housing Act

Fair Housing Advocates, Inc. recently helped three disabled persons who require service animals to enjoy the benefits of fair housing after their home city refused to provide an accommodation in their breed ordinance which prohibited pit bull dogs within the city limits. Though the three fair housing complaints were just filed, and the cases have not been officially reviewed, the outcome of the cases is easily predictable.

Here’s the scenario:

This particular city has a law which prohibits certain “vicious breeds” of dogs within their city limits, to include Pitbulls, Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, and the like. There is nothing illegal with prohibiting certain breeds of dogs, or prohibiting or limiting pets within the city limits.

Three disabled persons live within the city’s limits and possess bona fide assistance animals [service dogs] all of which happen to on the “vicious breeds” list- Pitbull and Staffordshire mixed breeds.

The city filed suit against the three disabled persons requesting the dogs be removed and fining the owners for breaking their law prohibiting Pitbull dogs.

The three disabled persons, with the assistance of Fair Housing Advocates, Inc., requested a reasonable accommodation in the city’s rules because they require their assistance animals to enjoy the benefits of fair housing. By the way, an accommodation request was made via email to the city’s attorney and included “documentation from a reliable source verifying their disability and disability-related need” for their service animals.

The city turned its nose up to the requests, refused to even consider or review the requests, and then later outright denied the accommodations for no good reason other than basically saying that their city laws are immutable and absolute. It’s reminiscent of the “cause I said so” defense.

So, can a City prohibit you from having a Pitbull, or any other “vicious breed” dog, if it’s your service animal?

No. The city violated the federal Fair Housing Act when it applied their pet rules to assistance animals [i.e. service animals and emotional support animals] and refused to grant an accommodation in their ordinance to verified disabled persons and their bona fide assistance animals.

According to the Department of HUD and the DOJ:
“Any person or entity engaging in prohibited conduct – i.e., refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling – may be held liable unless they fall within an exception to the Act’s coverage.” [see Joint Statement of the Dept. of HUD and the DOJ: Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act; May 17, 2004]

And for those who are still in doubt that a city, state, or local government is exempt from the Fair Housing Act, rest assured there is plenty of case support to resolve the issue, see: City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc., 514 U.S. 725, 729 (1995); Project Life v. Glendening, 139 F. Supp. 703, 710 (D. Md. 2001), aff'd 2002 WL 2012545 (4th Cir. 2002).
So to put this plainly for our audience, any entity responsible for having a hand in the provision of housing must comply with the federal Fair Housing Act.

If you have a Pitbull service dog, or an emotional support animal which falls under a city’s “dangerous breeds” ordinance, the city must provide you an accommodation in their laws if you request such an accommodation and need such an accommodation to enjoy the benefits of fair housing.

  • We see this kind of discrimination most common with our Disabled Military Veteran, Active Duty, and First Responder community- please reach us for no cost assistance.

If you are prohibited from having a service animal or emotional support animal by a city, a local government, an apartment complex, a condo association, or even a Home Owners Association (HOA), please reach Fair Housing Advocates, Inc. for no cost professional assistance:

Patrick Coleman

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