Disability and Animals

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Titlesort descending Summary
Access Now, Inc. v. Town of Jasper, Tennessee Plaintiffs Access Now, Inc. and Pamela Kitchens, acting as parent and legal guardian on behalf of her minor daughter Tiffany brought this action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against defendant Town of Jasper, Tennessee under the ADA after the town denied her request to keep a keep miniature horse as service animal at her residence. The town's ordinance at issue provided that no person shall keep an enumerated animal within 1000 feet of any residence without a permit from the health officer. The Jasper Municipal Court held a hearing and determined that the keeping of the horse was in violation of the code and ordered it removed from the property. On appeal, this Court found that while the plaintiffs contended that the horse helped Tiffany in standing, walking, and maintaining her balance, Tiffany does not have a disability as defined by the ADA and does not have a genuine need to use the horse as a service animal. Further, the Court found that the horse was not a service animal within the meaning of 28 C.F.R. § 36.104 because the animal was not used in the capacity of a service animal and instead was a companion or pet to Tiffany. The plaintiffs' complaint was dismissed with prejudice.
AK - Assistance Animal - Alaska's Assistance Animal/Guide Dog Laws The following statutes comprise the state's relevant assistance animal and guide dog laws.
AK - Unalaska - Title 12: Animal Control (Chapter: 12.04: Animal Control) Under this Unalaska, Alaska ordinance, a person who owns a seeing-eye dog, a hearing aid dog, or other aid dog is exempt from the license fees. Furthermore, this ordinance exempts such dogs from provisions that prohibit animals from entering certain places as long as the owner carries proper documentation certified by a recognized aid dog institution.
AL - Assistance Animals - Assistance Animal/Guide Dog Laws The following statutes comprise the state's relevant service animal, assistance animal, and guide dog laws.
AL - Facility dog - § 12-21-148. Use of certified facility dog in certain legal proceedings. This Alabama law from 2017 covers use of both registered therapy dogs and registered facility dogs in certain legal proceedings. A "registered therapy dog" is defined as "[a] trained emotional support dog that has been tested and registered by a nonprofit therapy dog organization that sets standards and requirements for the health, welfare, task work, and oversight for therapy dogs and their handlers . . ." A "certified facility dog" is defined as "[a] trained working dog that is a graduate of an assistance dog organization, a nonprofit organization that sets standards of training for the health, welfare, task work, and oversight for assistance dogs and their handlers . . ." Both must meet minimum standards including minimum months/years of training, documentation showing graduation from an assistance dog organization, a current health certificate, and proof of at least $500,000 in liability insurance. During trial proceedings, all precautions should be taken to obscure the presence of the dog from the jury.
Anderson v. City of Blue Ash This case stems from a dispute between Plaintiff/Appellant and the city of Blue Ash (City) on whether Plaintiff/Appellant could keep a miniature horse at her house as a service animal for her disabled minor daughter. Plaintiff/Appellant’s daughter suffers from a number of disabilities that affect her ability to walk and balance independently, and the horse enabled her to play and get exercise in her backyard without assistance from an adult. In 2013, the City passed a municipal ordinance banning horses from residential property and then criminally prosecuted plaintiff/appellant for violating it. Plaintiff/Appellant’s defense was that the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and the Fair Housing Amendments Act (“FHAA”), both entitled her to keep the horse at her house as a service animal for her daughter. Rejecting those arguments, the Hamilton County Municipal Court found Plaintiff/Appellant guilty. Plaintiff/Appellant filed suit in federal court arguing that the ADA and FHAA entitled her to keep her horse as a service animal. The district court granted summary judgment to the City, finding that Plaintiff/Appellant's claims were barred by claim and issue preclusion stemming from her Municipal Court conviction. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit found that, because the fact-finding procedures available in a criminal proceeding in municipal court differed substantially from those available in a civil proceeding, Plaintiff/Appellant's conviction had no preclusive effect on this lawsuit. Furthermore, while there was no evidence that the City's actions were motivated by discriminatory intent against the minor daughter or had a disparate impact on disabled individuals, there were significant factual disputes regarding whether the ADA or FHAA required the City to permit Plaintiff/Appellant to keep her miniature horse at her house. The district court's grant of summary judgment to the City on those claims was therefore reversed.
Andrade v. Westlo Mgmt. LLC The defendants, Westlo Management LLC (Westlo) seek review of a Superior Court order granting partial summary judgment on several counts in favor of the plaintiffs, Curtis W. Andrade and The Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (the commission). The defendants assert that the existence of genuine issues of material fact precluded partial summary judgment and that the commission did not have standing to intervene in this matter. The matter stems from a denial of plaintiff's request for a reasonable accommodation at Westlo's property. Prior to moving in to Westlo's low-income property, plaintiff was told by a leasing agent that he was not permitted to have his dog, Enzo, because the dog (a pit bull) was on the complex' restricted breed list. Andrade then informed the leasing manager that the dog was his support animal (although he could not recall at deposition whether he filled out paperwork for an assistance animal). After moving in, he left the dog mostly at his mother's residence, but did bring the dog to his residence in December of 2011. While the dog was there, an incident occurred with another resident in a hallway near the elevators. Andrade testified that his dog never made physical contact with the resident, while the other resident claims the dog charged at him and pinned him to a wall. This resulted in a report being made to the building manager who then informed Andrade the dog was not allowed on the premises. Andrade then discussed the need for a support animal with his doctor who agreed and wrote a note stating that Andrade “would benefit in having a dog due to his medical condition[.]” The building manager rejected this request in a letter citing the breed ban and the recent incident with the dog. After a subsequent refusal by the building manager, Andrade filed a charge of discrimination with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights. After unsuccessful settlement discussions with the parties, Westlo initiated eviction proceedings against Andrade for non-payment of rent and the commission issued a right-to-sue letter. Andrade then filed the instant lawsuit and a hearing justice granted the commission's right to intervene. The complaint against Westlo raised the unlawful denial of full and equal access to housing and public accommodations based on Andrade's disability and unlawful retaliation by eviction, among other things. After cross-motions for summary judgment by both parties, the hearing justice granted plaintiffs motion for summary judgment finding that Westlo had discriminated against Andrade. However, she found there to be a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the dog had requisite training. Further, she refused to interfere with the order granting the commission's motion to intervene. The justice also acknowledged that she had misstated that the request for the reasonable accommodation had occurred before the elevator incident with the other resident. As a result, she declined to make a finding of fact on that issue. On defendants' appeal of summary judgment, defendants argue that the issue of whether an accommodation is reasonable under the FHA is a factual one and thus it was error for the hearing justice to make those determinations. The Supreme Court looked at the similar language of both the federal FHA and the state FHPA. While the court found that plaintiff met the definition for disability under the laws and that defendant was made aware of plaintiff's need for reasonable accommodation, it was troubled by the "direct threat" posed by the dog. Specifically, the court found issue with the date mix-up in the initial hearing for the incident with the dog an other resident. Therefore, due to the highly fact-specific nature of the assessment of an assistance animal as well as the conflicting evidence presented, this court disagreed with the hearing justice and concluded summary judgment was not appropriate. Further, the court found a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the dog was "necessary" to fully enjoy his dwelling since benefit of dog as it relates to plaintiff's disability was not fully described and the dog lived away from plaintiff for a year. As to the challenge to the motion to intervene, the court found Westlo failed to obtain the transcripts necessary to review the issue. Thus, this court quashed that portion of the Superior Court order that grants the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment “as to the [l]iability of Westlo Management, on [c]ounts 1, 2, 3, and 7[.]” The record was remanded to the Superior Court for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.
AR - Assistance Animal - Arkansas Assistance Animal/Guide Dog Laws The following statute comprises the state's relevant assistance animal and guide dog law.
AR - Facility Dog - § 16-43-1002. Certified facility dogs for child witnesses This statute deals with the use of certified facility dogs for child witnesses and vulnerable witnesses (a person testifying in a criminal hearing or trial who has an intellectual and developmental disability or has a significant impairment in cognitive functioning acquired as a direct consequence of a brain injury or resulting from a progressively deteriorating neurological condition, including without limitation Alzheimer's disease or dementia). In order to qualify as a certified facility dog, a dog must graduate from an assistance dog organization after receiving at least 2 years of training and passing the same public service access test as a service dog.
Ascencio v. ADRU Corporation


A woman, who suffers from a disability that is accompanied by deep depression and anxiety, went to a fast food restaurant with her mother and her two service dogs. Upon entering the establishment, the employees refused to serve them, forced them to leave, and retaliated against them by calling the police and threatening them with arrest. The woman and her mother sued the fast food restaurant for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related California statutes. When the fast food restaurant failed to file an answer, the court entered a default judgment against the fast food restaurant; awarded the plaintiffs with damages, court costs and attorney fees; and placed a permanent injunction against the fast food restaurant.

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