In recent years, there has been a great deal off discussion surrounding service animals: regulations, expectations, requirements, etc. Many states now require building owners and landlords to accommodate not only service dogs, but emotional support animals (not specifically dogs) as well. Handling residents with service animals can be a tricky and sensitive subject, here are some tips to make it work.
Despite your current pet policies, if any, you may be required under law to allow service animals in your building. Many states recognize the need for these animals and the support they provide to those with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities, sometimes all three. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject, it is best to become knowledgeable of your rights and the rights of your residents. If the disability is not apparent, you are entitled to ask for medical documentation for verification. Breed and weight restrictions are often irrelevant in these cases, but if there is obvious damage or disruption caused by the animal to your property or neighboring residents, other restrictions do apply. However, you may be required to make some accommodations for a resident with a service pet.
Sensitivity and compassion can go a long way when dealing with a resident who needs a service animal. Offering a specific apartment that better suits a service animal can make your resident feel comfortable and appreciated. This may mean offering up a first floor unit, one that has easy access to the outdoors, or a unit that has more storage to accommodate the needs of a pet. Checking in periodically to make sure you resident has what he or she needs to care for their service animal properly can reduce damage to your property and disruption to other residents living nearby. Being considerate of all residents’ needs ad concerns will establish trust throughout your building and promote the unity needed to create a successful community.
Accommodating service animals can be a challenge, but knowing your rights and those of your residents is the first step to creating a comfortable environment for everyone. Kindness and understanding will result in the best outcome for you and all of your residents, even the furry ones!
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