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Companion animals for Social Security disability

A Minnesota woman has filed a suit against her condominium association for discrimination after she was denied permission for a companion dog. The association has, instead, recommended a companion cat, though physicians have recommended a friend of the canine persuasion. Having been approved for Social Security disability benefits, the woman has filed a civil rights suit in federal court for violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act for refusal to accommodate her disability.

The condo association has argued that if she is indeed handicapped, which she clearly is, as evidenced by her approval for Social Security disability and the advisement of a physician, social worker and psychologist for a companion pet, a companion cat should suit her just fine. All residents of the condo complex are allowed cats. However, the type of service animal a person need is not determined by their landlord, but rather by qualified medical professionals.

The woman is a long-time resident of this condo association, but after she sustained brain damage, her situation has changed. It appears that the condominium association is refusing to accommodate her in accordance with federal and state laws. The issue of cats versus dogs is an age-old question, and the personality of a dog makes them more suitable for companion pets.

This woman should not be forced to change her treatment due to the influence of the condo association, nor should she have to move in order to be accommodated for her disability. The defense of disabled people, who are clearly qualified to be considered as such, should be taken very seriously. This woman's willingness to pursue litigation serves as an example for others who may have felt as if they were being discriminated against due to their need for what some may consider 'unconventional' treatment.

Source: ABA Journal, "Federal Court Service Animal Ruling Sought: Can a Companion Cat Fill the Paws of a Companion Dog," Martha Neil, Sept. 14, 2012

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