Restricted Breeds Service Animals and Housing

Long the target of breed discrimination, owners of generic pitbull type dogs and other restricted or breeds affected by BSL usually are not allowed an accommodation for the service animal.  In many cases, the owner may not or cannot seem to convince the property owners, that their animal is in fact a service animal. Most people believe that a generic “pitbull” cannot be a service animal for some reason.

It may be recalled that SB861, wherein California passed a law several years ago, that enables any county to pass forced mandated altering on ANY breeds that the locality chooses, a lawsuit (several actually) was brought forward to try and stop the forced altering of a service dog such as a pitbull type, which might have to pull a wheelchair. After a lengthy time, the proponents of this lawsuit (Chako) finally caved in and settled with the city of San Francisco, and got an exemption only for any such animal affected, which had been properly registered prior to the law, and then that animal would be exempted. That is our recollection on that effort.  Whether there actually were any animals affected, we are unsure of, but it is possible.

Below is an article re this issue, here is a clip from April 2012, talking about Baltimore, MD and restricted breeds……….  

http://fairhousing.foxrothschild.com//2012/04/articles/disability/restricted-breeds-and-service-animals-how-should-management-evaluate-these-requests/

“…we might look to the Preamble to HUD’s Final Rule, “Pet Ownership for the Elderly and Persons With Disabilities [24 C.F.R. Part 5]”, which was published in the Federal Register on October 27, 2008 [see pages 63835-63837] for additional guidance when confronted with a restricted breed rule.

Specifically, the Preamble guidance states that the Fair Housing Act’s “direct threat” analysis also applies to “reasonable accommodations” assessments of assistive animals”:

“The determination of whether an assistance animal poses a direct threat, must rely on an individualized assessment that is based on objective evidence about the specific animal in question, such as the animal’s current conduct or a recent history of overt acts.  The assessment must consider nature, duration, and severity of the risk of injury; the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of rules, policies, practices, procedures, or services will reduce the risk…..”

In practice, this means that management needs to carefully evaluate all service animal requests and not reflectively reject a request solely because the animal is on a restricted breed list.

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2 thoughts on “Restricted Breeds Service Animals and Housing

  1. There is no reason on earth to keep a service dog intact. In fact, it would greatly interfere with the dog’s ability to focus and do its job. IF San Francisco let someone keep a pit bull intact to be a service dog – they were duped. IF someone argued for keeping their dog intact – there is no way it was a valid service dog. A lot of dog owners, especially pit bull owners, want to pretend that their pets are service dogs. That does not make it so.

  2. SF did agree mainly because they already knew there would be few
    dogs, however the attorney that has 1 or 2 APBT service dogs, had an attorney
    who does disability law, and the attorney owning the service dog (APBT)
    is a known writer on the breed, with a high scholastic science background.
    While some owners may try/assert their animals are service animals but
    they may not actually qualify, stating that “especially pitbull owners want to
    pretend their pets are service dogs” is an unqualified statement unless there
    is ample actual evidence. ANY owner with a dog obviously doesn’t translate to
    service dog. Breed has no relevance according to the federal law, but it may come
    up only because of local/state legislation.

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