You Be the Judge

The Case of the Prohibited Pooch

Should a tenant with a disability be allowed to break a ban on animals? You be the judge.

dog illustration
Noma Bar for Reader’s Digest

By November 2000, six months after Joyce Grad had moved into 
Royalwood Cooperative Apartments in Royal Oak, Michigan, she was 
getting anxious about her seasonal 
descent into depression. “It always gets worse in winter,” says the now-64-year-old, who describes her feelings 
at that time as “suicidal.” She adds, “I was watching the leaves fall and thinking, I don’t think I can do this.”

Grad had been living alone on 
Social Security disability for years due to bipolar disorder, causing 
severe depression that prevented her from working. Sometimes it was so bad, she could barely get out of bed. Worried about her inactivity, she 
reasoned, If I had a dog, I would have to go outside for walks. But the co-op board had a no-pet policy.

Grad wrote to the board, asking 
it to waive the policy and allow her 
to have a small dog. Grad stated that 
according to the Fair Housing Act, 
“it is unlawful discrimination to deny a person with a disability ‘a reasonable accommodation of an existing building rule or policy if such accommodation may be necessary to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises.’”

She included letters from her 
psychiatrist and psychologist stating that a dog would help with her 
“debilitating depressive disorder.”

But the board rejected Grad’s 
request.

Two months later, Grad moved 
to an apartment in a building a few miles from Royalwood that allowed pets, and she acquired a ten-pound gray poodle from a family in the neighborhood. Grad named the dog Lady and trained the poodle to coax her out of bed in the morning and 
to take her home if she was out and 
experienced a panic attack.

About ten months after leaving Royalwood, Grad filed a complaint against the apartment complex with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD 
investigated and, in August 2003, filed a civil complaint against 
Royalwood, claiming that it had, 
in fact, discriminated against Grad and violated the Fair Housing Act.

“The legal question was whether the requested accommodation would have lessened the effect 
of the disability,” explains Grad’s 
attorney, Gabrielle Frampton. “Would the dog have helped? 
Or would it have just been a pet?”

Did Royalwood Cooperative 
Apartments discriminate against Joyce Grad by not waiving its no-pet policy? You be the judge.

Next: The Verdict

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95 thoughts on “The Case of the Prohibited Pooch

  1. As a person with Major Depression, let me just start by saying depression
    is a very serious disease, just as cancer or coronary disease, the only problem
    is there’s no medical test to clearly state you have it. The general perception
    of it is “Oh, he’s just feeling a little blue…”, and I understand that, I
    would have said the same thing – until I was stricken with it. Depression robs
    you of everything in life you took for granted – being able to get out of bed,
    taking out the trash, talking to your wife, going out with friends, etc… and
    the list goes on and on. All the things you used to do in life now take 100x the
    effort and energy to do. The Rosewood board says Grad was “happy as a lark” and
    “friendly and gregarious”, let me tell you as a person who has been in her
    shoes, it’s all an act in an attempt to hide from people that you are in the
    lowest of the low places that anyone can even conceive to be in in life. For me
    to go out in public and put on a smile for people takes more energy than
    chopping down a tree. If Grad had cancer and her doctors said a dog may help
    keep her spirits up and may aid in helping her through her treatment and
    recovery, would Rosewood have still disallowed the dog? I don’t think so. My
    point is Depression is real and needs to start being accepted and treated as
    such by the general public.

  2. I FIRMLY disagree with the verdict! She was in a no-dog
    building and she should have, at that time, done what she ultimately did do:
    MOVE! She had violated all the other tenants’ rights, those who wanted to live
    in a community with NO dogs. Their rights were violated, not hers. I cannot
    believe that this verdict was rendered in this case!!! I, too, do not believe
    her “disability” was so debilitating that she needed to have a
    dog in that building, especially. Most seniors have similar problems
    with depression in many forms, but they do not need or ask for a dog.

    I was
    FUMING when I read this verdict!. This woman does NOT deserve the monetary
    awards she received. What makes it worse is that she did move and got her dog
    and that’s, again, what she should have done in the first place.

    I hope
    I never have to go before the MORON
    of a judge who favored this woman and completely disregarded the rights of the
    tenants who do not want to live with dogs.

    I am one of them. I do NOT want to live with dogs or smokers.

    What this imbecile of a judge may not realize is that there
    are zillions of apartment complexes that allow dogs and smokers, but in this
    entire country there are very few complexes who have no pet and no smoking
    policies for the rest of us. We have to suffer with smokers and dog owners… not
    picking up their poop and affecting our air with their disgusting smoke!

    What choices do we have? This SELFISH, SELF-FOCUSED, insane
    woman and her equally inconsiderate laywer are of the types that make living in
    this world a real struggle for those of us who do not want to live with animals
    or cigarette smoke.

    I wish they were made to give this money back… she does NOT
    deserve it!

  3. It’s a common thing to think that just because an illness is mental, it doesn’t exist. Depression is a real disability, and yes, she deserved to have her needs attended to. If others had a problem with the dog, solutions could be taken.

  4. Hey for all those claiming they have allergies or what about the rights of people with allergies, POODLES ARE HYPO-ALLERGENIC! That is what she had-a poodle!

  5. In my opinion, Grad received FAR below the amount she should have received for the trouble. Bigotry and ignorance should be fined in the MILLIONS, not a few thousand. The defendants got off easily. Grad actually needed a REAL junkyard dog of an attorney to get what should have gone to her, and maybe, it would have served as a message to those who own apartments and refuse to acknowledge fair housing laws and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

  6. Grad deserved compensation. As a disability civil rights advocate, Grad was discriminated against. Mental illness ABSOLUTELY IS a disability and fulfills ALL of the definitions of disability. Anyone who would disagree with the verdict is ignorant and/or bigoted.

  7. I disagreed with all this. #1. she moved to a place that accommodated her need for a pet and it was only a few miles away. #2. she used OUR tax dollars to bring a frivolous suit. #3. she did not LET IT GO!
    As for being mentally ill – it seems that the stress of the court case would’ve sent her over the edge, but I guess the high priced HUD and other government lawyers helped her with that. (another our tax dollars at work)
    I have no respect for people that bring a court case that they’ve ALREADY solved.
    But as the article says she got $14,209 and additional punitive damages and I’m sure when you’re on a fixed income it’s a GREAT way to make money.
    I can agree with the aptmt. complex and it’s rule prohibiting pets.
    Too bad the judge was such an IDIOT!

    1. Too bad the judge was such an IDIOT! Look in the mirror. You will see an idiot due to bigotry and ignorance.

  8. I agree with the verdict, what we all must understand that as we age we are not always able to secure or establish a relationship with another human being that is unconditional however with a pet you can do that and this helps not only people with disabilities began to get more out of life and give them something to do but this works for the aging also.

  9. I believe this is another case of “The Tail Wagging The Dog” The complex owners should have the right to establish their own restrictions (I’m sure the lady read these before moving in) The “restrictions/rules” may be the “very reason” some of the tenants chose to live there, anyway! This seems to me to be a breech of “Owners Rights” If this lady is sitting at a Red Light and her bipolar swing tells her she should go anyway!~ Would a traffic cop violate her rights by writing her a ticket??

  10. I agree. PTSD and depression are very real and can be disabling. I get tired of people thinking a person is not disabeled if he does not look didabeled. I am one of those. It is very real.

  11. I’m thrilled that the first federal verdict was made in favor of someone with depression (or seasonal affective disorder) and panic attacks. The story describes a housing board with the view of many. If someone has an obvious disability like blindness or they’re wheelchair bound people frequently understand that allowances should be made. It’s telling that the letters from the psychiatrist and psychologist were not convincing and I’d like to ask your audience to consider that psychiatric (mental) illness can be very painful. Suicide rates among young people are on the rise and we shouldn’t dismiss depression as a weakness and turn away from these people. I think that when stories like these are told that there is a chance for people to become more educated. All disabilities are not immediately visible.

    1. Amen. I have Aspergers. A few years ago, I attended a disability rights caucus. An attorney said he was able to help a lot of people with Aspergers and other autism-spectrum disorders (ASD) disability because they were treated VERY badly by employers and repeatedly subjected to hostile work environments to try to get a constructive dismissal. The only reason I never ended up filing for disability even though I experienced a lot of the harassment he knew people with ASD as well as mental-illnesses is because I knew that I would probably spend a lot of time in court defending myself against people “turning me in” because I didn’t “look” like I had a disability, and objected to me getting any kind of disability. Fortunately, my mom “got it,” realized that I was very miserable in my jobs because of the bad treatment I received from employers and was willing and able to leave a trust to me that allowed me to actually take in more a month than any job I ever held. Also, I have a college degree, a two-year degree in Aviation Maintenance, and a two-year diploma in paralegal, but was always under-employed because of my Aspergers. I did try very hard to support myself. When my position as a case manager for home and community-based services Medicaid waivers for Physical Disabilities was eliminated due to the jerk governor privatizing Medicaid in this state (Kansas), I was unable to get other work, probably due to my age (60 at the time), so I went and took care of my elderly mother, which required relocating. I KNOW that from all the prejudice I have experienced from others that I would never be allowed a peaceful life free from others’ bigotry. In my case, I know I am very fortunate to have a parent who “got it,” and was willing and able to leave a monthly amount for my life. Even in my retirement, I am willing and ready to help a person with mental illness or ASD as an advocate. That would include a kid in high school with any form of ASD and is having to deal with bullying and not getting any help from the school.

  12. The bond between a pet and their owner is therapeutic and improves the quality of life of both owner and pet. denying Grad’s request shows ignorance, discrimination, and a lack of comprehension of the nature of mental illness. YES compensate.

  13. I wonder if you would say the same negative comments if the woman’s disability was blindness or epilepsy. BTW there is NO “official” service dog registry. In reading the negative comments I do not know if they are truly anti psych dog or anti psychiatric illness.

  14. Of course! The desire of this one woman (who had a choice on where to move) should obliterate the rights of all other tenants already residing in a pet-free apartment complex for various reasons of their own. What a great example being set for our young by our judicial system, which rewards the selfish acts of individuals, at the expense of everyone around them.

  15. As a landlord of 30 years, I disagree with the ruling. First of all, the poodle was picked up in the neighborhood, not a registered service animal. There are anti pet rules for a reason. Most people do not properly maintain their pets, no matter what they tell you. She did the right thing, she moved to a complex that DID allow pets. Case closed. If I was a neighbor of her, and I had moved into a non-pet building expecting no pets, then now my rights are infringed. As a landlord I also know that if one tenant is allowed a pet, then others want one too.

    Also I personally know two people who registered their pets as a service animal so they could take them to hotels with them on vacations. Seems that the process is not that difficult in some states. I know for a fact that these animals were NOT service animals. Its too easy to abuse the system.

    1. I hope then, that you develop a disability. Then, you will see more clearly what a lot of people have to go through. There are fair housing laws, and you, as a landlord have NO choice but to observe fair housing laws or expect to get sued-justifiably. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is here to stay, like it or not, and is amended (2008) so that judges can’t just throw ADA cases out of court because they are ADA cases and because the plaintiff has a disability or regarded as having one by someone violating their civil rights.

  16. I would be so lonely and more depressed if it were not for my dog. I have my own home but my husband did not want the dog in the house. I stood my ground and the dog has a bed in my room. Anyone who has experienced depression, anxiety, agoraphobia and or suicidal tendencies has no idea how much the company of something that loves you unconditionally.

  17. Never thought I’d be writing to Reader’s Digest, but when I read the story by Vicki Glembocki, “You be the Judge” I just had to do so.
    In 2000, I was diagnosed with severe Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating
    Polyneuropathy. This is an autoimmune disease of the peripheral nervous system.
    It results in the loss of the myelin sheath covering that insulates and protects peripheral nerves. It has caused the loss of feeling on the exterior of my feet, ankles and lower legs. But there is a lot of pain on the inside. For me this is not due to diabetes or MS. Walking is very painful and the sensations are sometimes overwhelming.
    Before and during the process of my diagnoses I worked for a large university. I also drove a Corvette. And, yes, I parked it in a “Handicap Only” parking space for
    which I clearly displayed my “Handicap” hang tag.
    One day a woman approached me and said, “I see you parking that Corvette every day in this Handicap spot, but you don’t look or act like there is any reason. What’s
    wrong with you – a handicapped person can’t drive a Corvette!!” I simply asked her if she would like to trade feet and legs with me as I have no feeling in them. She wanted to know more – and without apologizing – just with a “Hmmph” she walked away.
    A couple years later I hired a young woman who had formerly worked as a
    dispatcher at the campus police department. She told me she could remember
    multiple calls from people reporting a Corvette parked in a Handicap spot. The
    police had become accustomed to this and would simply reply, “Oh, yes, we know who that is and we have verified the disability.
    I also look perfectly fine, but have a very severe handicap. It is easy to read a book if you never open the cover. People should not judge others based solely on what they can see on the outside. If they could feel what I feel every day of my life, I’m sure they would want to scream out in pain, suffer from being clumsy, and always be tired from fighting through another day.

  18. Our personal freedoms are being eroded by laws gone wild. She new the rules upon moving in. What if she became wheelchair bound? Would she insist her front door ramp be built even if it cost two parking spaces? What if the color of the building (?blue) worsened her depression? Would she make the entire building repaint?

  19. I disagree. Her disability and treatment choice shouldn’t violate the rights of those who chose to live in a place with a no pet policy. I live on the 2nd floor and climb up the stairs to get to my apartment. Should a person using a wheel chair demand to live on the 2nd floor or find a place more suitable for their disability? Pet owners are notorious for not taking care of their pets. They bark, bite, poop everywhere, slobber and jump on people and threaten people. Those who aren’t pet owners have little to no recourse except to live in places with no pet policies. Even then we get strays running around and the places down the street have their dogs barking. Complaints about not being able to afford a place that allows pets should indicate you shouldn’t get a pet. All dog owners seem to think their pets are their children and anybody that doesn’t enjoy them is just out of luck. They are so smug about trampling on the rights of others.

    1. You obviously can’t empathize and don’t begin to understand. People with disabilities are NOT violating your civil rights by existing or even requiring a support animal, PRESCRIBED support animal. Maybe, if you developed a mental health disability you would see more clearly. I am sure you probably think that all people with disabilities belong in institutions, out of sight, out of mind. I have Aspergers and while my pet dog is not a support animal, she gives me the unqualified love and acceptance that a lot of very mean people in my life would not. I am a very responsible pet owner, and everyone, including my landlord and veterinarian can vouch for me on that.

  20. Yes. I agree. There are people in this world that think if they cannot physically see the disability, it isn’t there. Mental illnesses such as bipolar, depression, anxiety, panic attacks can be very debilitating. And a lot of people don’t understand how painful if can be. I am one of these people that have to deal with this disease. There are good days. Sometimes we can still function on a’normal’ basis, but when there are bad days, they are really bad. And oftentimes, having an animal companion is the only way to get me out of bed, go outside, because there is another life I have to take care of. I can honestly say, that if it were not for my dogs, I doubt I would be here today. Many times I have contemplated taking my life, but I could not bear the thought of my animals waiting for ‘mom’ to come home everyday, and I never show up. And they having no idea that I was never coming back.

    A few years ago I had a problem identical to Ms.Grad’s, but it didn’t go to court. I had a HUD advocate fight for me, I had letters from all the specialists I was seeing, my psychiatrist gave me a prescription for “Emotional support animals” and that’s exactly what they are. Emotional support animals. The board basically said the same thing “She doesn’t look disabled”. This is a stereotype that I have to deal with everyday. So, before you go and judge someone by the way they look, please remember that you have no idea what that person may be struggling with.

    I am happy that she was able to win the case, and found another place to live.

  21. I think the problems are not with the dogs, but with the owners who have not trained their pets to behave. We have a little, quiet 11 year old Pom. We also have a letter from a doctor of the therapeutic value of our dog for my husband. We are being challenged by a co-op where we want to purchase a unit because of the dog. Can they keep us from buying the unit? I hope not.

  22. I think once she moved, she should have just dropped it. I am glad she was awarded some money, but overall, she should not have filed a complaint. As for Royalwood, the lady presented THREE letters stating that she needed the pet. How many letters did they need before they would agree that she needed help?

    1. Isn’t the main tenet for mental health the ability to “LET IT GO”?
      She didn’t follow that one. As for any reward – I think it’s unconscionable to reward anything to her as she did not deserve it.
      She found a solution to the problem by moving – end of story … nothing to see here folks – keep moving!

  23. I would feel better about this decision if she provided a letter from her health care provider that a dog would be therapeutic. However, I still disagree with the decision. One person’s need is trumping every other resident’s rights. If she wanted a dog, she should choose an apartment complex that allows dogs.

  24. Having been in a similar situation myself, I totally understand where Grad is coming from. An animal doesn’t have to be specially trained to bring much-needed comfort to a disabled person and a person doesn’t have to have a visible deformity to be disabled. It is so incredibly hard for people with mental illnesses to be taken seriously, especially if the mental illness is such that the person can function normally part of the time. Just knowing that you’re different but unable to get anyone to understand how is hard enough. It’s not just the law, it’s being a good person.

    1. It is so incredibly hard for people with mental illnesses to be taken seriously, especially if the mental illness is such that the person can function
      Oh boy, you can sure say that again about being taken seriously if you have a mental illness. I have Aspergers, and while it is not a mental illness, there is something about Aspergers and other autism-spectrum disorders that people seem to just pick up on, then pick on the person with that disorder as though they chose to have it just to annoy others who do not have the compassion, open-mindedness, and human consideration to deal with the affected person in a humane way. People need to realize that those of us with autism spectrum disorders (ASD or any kind of mental illness did NOT choose to have that problem to make exception to ourselves. To everyone who opposes this woman getting compensation for her lawsuit, there are Fair Housing Laws and the Americans With Disabilities Act, (ADA) and no matter what you think, these laws are not going to go away. The only way you can wish them away is to vote for the very meanest of conservative Republican politicians, but then, that can have a way of backfiring.
      Not very many years ago, nearly all ADA cases were thrown out of court BECAUSE they were ADA cases, and people with disabilities who were discriminated against pretty much had to represent themselves. It was very difficult to get representation when you had a bona fide disability but couldn’t get your case through court. Judges throwing cases out just because they were ADA cases were violating a lot of peoples’ civil rights and disenfranchising people with disabilities. I know this took place because I had an ADA case of discrimination against a big corporation and was forced to represent myself. I took a two-year paralegal course and finished it in eight months with an A average, took on the corporation myself, proved the merit of my case in a court of law, and it sure helped that the magistrate judge recognized the ADA as legitimate federal law, and those the ADA protected as legitimate FULL human beings. The company STILL tried to insist that I take deposition at a site of THEIR choosing, and I was not to have anyone with me to protect me in any way when I attended the deposition. This was a flashing red light that foul play was planned by the corporation, and I let the judge know what the company’s attorney said about me not being allowed any protection, and that I feared foul play. Since I knew who I was dealing with, I KNEW that foul play was actually VERY likely. I had a clear cut case. I was described by the corporation in an employee evaluation as “slow learning.” This qualified as a “regarded As” ADA claim. I am a lot of things but NOT slow learning! Isn’t it an irony that I completed the two-year paralegal course in eight months and aced it-AND used what I learned to force the company to settle out of court? Part of the reason they settled out of court is that I immediately informed the judge what the defendant’s attorney said about not being allowed any kind of protection when I went to my deposition. I already let the defense attorney know that it was MY right to choose the venue for any deposition, NOT them. She got all mad and said that I HAD to go to the site of the corporation for my deposition and that I was not to bring anyone who might serve as “protection,” which I considered really absurd and disturbing, and I feared for my life and let the judge know about the attorney’s requirement.
      The corporation was an aircraft manufacturer, and I am an FAA-certified aircraft maintenance technician-AND completed THAT training at the same time as everyone else and I completed it close to the top of my class as the only woman in the class. The defendant was Cessna Aircraft. Their HR person told everyone that they were to consider me and treat me as a “retarded” person. I later found out that I have Aspergers but that I tested as having very exceptional level of intelligence. Later, I used my social work training from my four-year degree to act as a disability rights advocate, and all my clients won the cases they pursued. I am not an attorney, but I helped my clients get access to the legal help they needed. Those who opposed my clients found out that I don’t back down. I got into their faces and pretty much laid it out. They had to give in to my client’s civil rights as people with disabilities or be personally ruined if they didn’t.

  25. I am saddened that the post I had written has seemingly been flagged as being inappropriate (unless it didn’t post properly for some reason) in which I posted the links as to what the law(s) actually state. I think it is important to note that in this particular case, there is no case, as under the law Ms. Grad had every right to request and receive an accommodation. In my previous post I addressed the concerns that have been raised in this forum. My professional experience is such that I help advise in cases like this and help people to understand their rights. While I agree that there are those with allergies or who are fearful of dogs, this does not negate what the law states. If the person can document that their allergies are severe or their fear of dogs is debilitating, then they should certainly feel free to raise their concerns with management to have a reasonable solution worked out. I also addressed the fact that finding affordable housing can be a very daunting task (as truly affordable housing can be hard to come by) and often can be cost prohibitive for those who have a disability and have a limited income. I would also note that there are certainly other factors as well, such as anxiety, or having a physical disability, which limits a person from being able to pack/move.

    1. She can REQUEST but may not receive what she requests – we need to have the right in this country to say no. The apartment building said no.
      Then she solved it herself or with the help of HUD. Then she went back and sued them – for what reason – she was never going to live there again? I think it was the money and the fact that she COULDN’T LET IT GO!!! And our gov’t with it’s deep pockets and access to attorneys funded by our tax dollars that just LOVE to stick it to the big bad apartment building!
      We just can’t accept no and we won’t we’ll sue the pants off anyone that gets in our way!
      Obviously you have never been sued – it’s a HORRIBLE experience!

  26. To me it seems as though by HUD giving the rights to these people they are taking away the rights of others. Some people move into “no dog” buildings because they choose not to live in a building with dogs, mostly because of allergies, deep fear of dogs or just that dogs can be annoying by their barking, etc. I don’t dispute the fact that there are people who need the comfort a dog gives them because of physical or mental disabilities but with so many buildings out there that do allow dogs why can’t people realize this & move into one of those. Seems to be a logical solution.

    1. If a person has a severe or debilitating condition that is the result of being around dogs then they certainly have the right to make that known and ask for an accommodation. What you seem to be proposing is that a person who has a documented condition which requires a service/support animal should be limited in terms of where they can live. If you think that such a person should be able to find a place that allows pets, I would ask that you do a search to find an apartment in your area that allows pets and that is affordable (generally 30% of a person’s) income. When a person does not have a Section 8 voucher and the wait list is 2+ years long, it is not an easy task when you have limited income, which often is around $1000/month or less.

      1. This goes double if you live in a county that doesn’t have Section 8 anymore because they’ve run out of funds. Moving to a different county isn’t always an option and can be quite complicated when most of your services are on the county level.

    2. So you below are saying that if someone has happily lived in this building for maybe five years, and someone with a disability suddenly moves in and then gets a dog, that the long time tenant should move to accommodate the disabled person? Sorry, I fully agree with JW. I would not want to live in a “dog” building myself, and that is MY right.

  27. A service or therapy dog is not a pet. It is seen thru the eyes of the law as if it were a prosthetic device or wheelchair which would never be denied someone. The burden of proof is on her and her doctors and I believe it should be that way so it isn’t abused as some like to carry their dogs around as accessories. The argument of others with allergies is not germaine to this situation. If their allergy is their disability, then they should deal with it medically just as the person with the mental disability must- with medication.
    I do not know if she proved her case sufficiently however the board and witnesses have no bearing whatsoever as they are not medical mental illness experts and again they were voting against a pet by definition, not a therapeutic piece of equipment which no one by law can be denied if proven a necessity by medically licensed doctors.

  28. During the many months that she was in the 2nd apartment with her dog, it could have shown if the dog was helping her or not. Was that evidence used or argued?

  29. Disagree! Have you all forgotten the people who provide the units for renters. Everyone wants a nice place to live and as medical pets become more and more prevalent the quality of the living units is going to go down. By law owners or landlords are not allowed to charge a deposit to cover potential damage by the medical pet. There is almost always above normal damage and cleaning needed when a renter has a pet. Few renters clean up dog droppings outside or keep cat boxes clean inside. Few pay attention to the behavior of their pets. It is becoming more and more usual for us to be surprised by a “medical pet” where no pets are allowed. Anyone can get a prescription for a medical pet in my opinion because we seem to get so many of them. I have been in property ownership or management for 30 years and have found responsible pet owners are few and far between. Owners should be allowed to charge deposits to cover potential damage if we are forced to allow pets in all units.

    1. If they aren’t allowed to charge a deposit, why have I had to pay a pet deposit at every apartment I’ve lived in? I have a letter from my doctor saying that a pet is beneficial to my mental health. You may want to check your facts. And not just anyone can get a ‘medical pet.’ I had several talks with my therapist before getting the appropriate paperwork.

  30. For everyone that says she should have gotten a “certified” or “program” dog, go online and see how many organizations there are to train SDs. Very few! Now research to see how many people are waiting for those dogs that complete the programs. How much money do these organizations charge for the dogs? How do the disabled persons afford to shell out $10, $15 thousand at one time? There is nothing in the ADA that requires SDs to be certified. Not PSD, not mobility, not DAD, not Seizure alert, nothing. And not everyone that disability is visible. Let’s just be thankful “ignorance” isn’t a disability!

  31. I fully disagree with the verdict regarding an aminal allowed in a non-pet apartments. If one has an illness that need a pet one should find an apartment complex that allows them. I am very allergic to dogs and eyes close when they have been in an apartment or hotel that has or had pets.

    1. I am sorry to hear that you have a severe allergy to dogs. As with Ms. Grad, it sounds as through you are aware that there are times when you need to ask for an accommodation, and would seek one if someone moved into your complex with a support animal that does not allow for pets.

  32. I disagree. Every place I have ever lived someone moved in later with a small, yappy dog. I even moved to an apartment once that did not allow pets. They changed their policy halfway through my lease. If I bought a condo that did not allow pets and this woman was allowed to bring a little poodle in, I would sue them myself. I don’t care what the issue is, the board is allowed to make certain rules that make a residence more attractive to people. If they want to ban car alarms, cigars and yappy, little dogs then they should be able to. If someone decides after they move in that they have a disability that requires them to have their car honking at 2 in the morning, then they can very well move.

    1. It sounds as though you have had some bad experiences with neighbors who had dogs that were not well trained. Under the law, a service/support animal must be able to demonstrate that they have a certain level of training. If a person moved in with a service/support animal where that was not the case then I certainly hear that being an issue that should be pursued.

  33. I have been fortunate enough to have a family who supports me through the tough times of my mental illness. For those who do not, a pet can be the difference between life or death. The taboo surrounding mental illness is an unfortunate one as mental illness can be just as debilitating as any physical disability. Bravo for the jury to come back with a judgment against Royalwood. Perhaps this is the first step to removing that taboo.

    1. Thank you for being brave enough to post your comments. It is my hope that as a society we can learn how to treat individuals with any type of disability with more respect and dignity.

  34. It has been proven that during the winter months depression is an issue for a lot of people. Getting out for walks helps but without incentive you don’t. Having a pet would greatly improve this in that you’s have to get out several times a day. Without one, a person, me included, wouldn’t do anything except sit around or sleep all day. With the proof she had from the professionals, it was a no brainer. If a residence does not allow pets find a house or apartment that does. Check before you rent.

    1. I appreciate your comment. However, I would state that it is not always easy to find affordable housing that allows pets. Beyond this, the law allows her to ask for and receive an exception to the no pets policy as the animal is not considered a pet.

  35. Someone having to for following rules is insane. She getting anything out of the case would be de-motivating for anyone to abide by the rules.

    1. I would just like to remind you that there is a difference between someone having a pet, when there is a no pet policy in place and someone requesting to have a service/support animal.

  36. Totally AGREE! Just because you can’t see mental illness in your heart’s eye, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! Royalwood’s attorney even minimized Grad’s disability as an alleged disability and exampled a blind person’s disability as if a disability only needs to be experienced by other viewers and not the person suffering the disability herself. The judge in this case saw through the rhetoric and ruled justly! Hooray for this judge!

  37. At issue here are a couple of universal conditions – depression and pets – and Ms. Grad’s motives.
    Depression occurs to all human beings, to a greater or lesser degree. No one escapes depression at one time or another. For instance, Sir Winston Churchill reportedly suffered from massive depression. The man was immobilized at times. Churchill’s response was to save Great Britain during WWII and become one of the most impressive people of the 20’th century. Ms. Grad’s response was to convince the mental health people to certify her as “disabled,” quit working, and commence permanent government financial support. Churchill’s situation was unquestionably more dire than Ms. Grad’s situation that she “didn’t want to get out of bed.” After all, who among us has not wanted to get out of bed at some point?
    Pet ownership is universally known to be beneficial. Ms. Grad’s decision to own a pet poodle does not seem to reach the level of critical medical need. After all, the other residents of her housing coop may have pet allergies, etc., and those conditions are an important consideration.
    Ms. Grad was fully aware of the pet ban in her housing coop, however she unilaterally determined that her situation superceded the coop’s mutual agreement among all of the residents. What was this woman’s underlying motive? Why was Ms. Grad compelled to sue all of her former neighbors for punitive damages? Some people enjoy “gaming the system” to exert power/control over others. There are those people who are mean-spirited, vindictive and bullying. There are also people who enjoy the financial gain, as a way of keeping score, in their miserable world. They believe they are outwitting everybody. And our legal system enables these individuals.

    1. I would caution you against making a judgement about what another person’s needs are. Just because you believe it is not a “critical medical need” does not mean that this is not seen as being beneficial to Ms. Grad to live as independently as possible. I certainly agree that there are those with allergies – if that is the case then they should contact management to work out a reasonable solution. I would also caution against judging a person’s underlying motive – I know that when I do this, I am often proved wrong because I lack knowledge and information about what the actual situation the person is facing.

      1. They said we could come on here and be the judge – why are you hindering that?

  38. DISAGREE!!! What about the others who live in that housing complex who are there because they do not allow dogs. What about the person with severe dog allergies who can’t even be around them? Now they can’t enjoy the grounds of the complex. What about the person with severe anxiety about possible dog bites. Some people are extremely afraid of dogs. Their rights are now being infringed upon if you allow for one dog. When she took that housing, Grad knew of her mental issues. She may have felt better having a dog, but, she should have just chosen more wisely in selecting housing. If it says NO DOGS in the lease, then it should be “NO DOGS”. Who gets to choose their health issues? Don’t others have the right to feel better because there are no dogs allowed at this housing complex.

    1. I would say that you are privileging one person’s needs over another’s. Both parties certainly have rights. If the individuals who have severe allergies, or are afraid of dogs then it is reasonable for them to ask to have a conversation with the property managers to find a solution that works for both parties. Thier allergies/fears however do not trump another person’s right under the law for a reasonable accommodation. In defense of Ms. Grad she was being proactive in her thinking and looking for a new solution to help her. Perhaps she had not thought of having an animal as a possibility prior to this point.

      1. You keep saying the same thing – but it’s so badly put that I can’t read all of it … stop repeating yourself PLEASE!

      2. Leases are temporary. She should have gotten one when her lease was up and she could move. The point is she knowingly moved to a no-dog facility. People may have moved there for medical/psych reasons BECAUSE they needed a no-dog policy to deal with their own issues. Their rights have to be considered (and, in this case, should take precedence since it was no secret), too. It wasn’t fair of her to expect the rules to change for everyone because she got a new idea.
        And I say this as someone that has major depression (and have for decades) and other issues. I also work every day because it HELPS depression and forces me to get out of bed on days I would otherwise feel I couldn’t. And I don’t expect the world to change the rules just for me. I have dogs for the same reason as this person. I chose to move to a place that actually allows dogs for this very reason.

    2. How bad would your allergies have to be if you’re affected by an animal in someone else’s apartment? True, the dog owner has to take the dog outside for walks, but you don’t have people in houses saying their neighbors can’t have dogs because of allergies. Do you?

    3. This woman’s dog was a poodle. Poodles are hypo-allergenic. Your argument is null and void.

  39. What about people who are allergic to dogs? Do they have no rights? If she wants or needs a dog, she should move to an apartment where they are allowed. So simple, why the big deal? It’s not only about the rights of the disabled person.

    1. I would say that you are privileging one person’s needs over another’s. Both people certainly have rights. If the individuals who have severe allergies to dogs then it is reasonable for them to ask to have a conversation with the property managers to find a solution that works for both parties. Thier allergies however do not trump another person’s right under the law for a reasonable accommodation.

      1. And I would say that you are privileging ones person’s needs over another’s as well. You have also said “If a person has a severe or debilitating condition that is the result of being around dogs then they certainly have the right to make that known and ask for an accommodation.” How would this accommodation be handled? Would the person with severe allergies just be asked to stop having allergies? Would Ms. Grad have to accommodate to the most likely already signed renters contract?

  40. Disagree. When the 50 year old suddenly came up with an idea, “If I had a dog….” and knew she lived in a no pet zone, she should have begun her search for a new place to live where pets are accepted. If the apartments say okay to that dog, they set a precedent and will open a whole can of worms. (Are worms pets or fishing bait?)

    1. Please be aware that your statement is a blanket judgement against her and anyone else who has a legitimate and documented disability who has an animal as allowed under law to help them to live as independently as possible. I would also like to challenge your thinking that it is easy for someone who has a limited income to find a new place to live. Reasonable accommodations are allowed under the law – if someone is trying to sneak in a pet the apartment complex has every right to deny that request.

    2. There are states where finding a pet-friendly apartment building is next to impossible. I happen to live in one. Even when a building does allow pets, it usually means an extra deposit up-front plus a higher monthly rent. This gets very expensive very fast. Not something that’s easy to take on a fixed income. The complications and possible expense become even greater if there are other factors besides having a pet involved. Access to required health care, proximity to family, stuff like that.

      1. And WHY do you think the need for deposits and higher rent? Because most people are not responsible pet owners AND responsible renters too. I keep hearing about “affordable” and “expensive” housing. Pets are also expensive and if the person needs affordable housing, maybe they should not become a pet owner at this time. Pets come with expenses too.

    3. There are mealy worms and they are hedgehog food. :) LOL! Earthworms are bait. :)

  41. Agree! I am someone who is also disabled, but for someone who does not know me to look at me they would not know it. I walk around and look like everyone else around me. My physical reasons for causing my disability are not visible and do not come out in my personality, but believe me, they are very debilitating and just as painful just the same. My disability causes me to have frequent bouts of depression, especially during those times when I hurt so bad that I can’t do the things that I would like to do. I have a dog that I love very much. She is very therapeutic for me in so many ways as well as my best friend. She is as times the only thing that keeps me going and in touch with reality and life in general. I know that she is as dependent on me as I am on her and without me she wouldn’t survive. But then, truth of the matter is, I am more dependent on her than she is on me. Because without her to keep me going and to love me and keep me grounded, I would just give into my pain and depression and not care anymore. I know because before her the thought crossed my mind more than once. So whether an animal is certified, or professionally trained or not, really doesn’t matter. What matters is that the animal is important enough to the person in need of that animal to make them feel needed enough to face another day and keep breathing regardless of where they live. What the Housing and Apartment Complexes with No Pet Rules need to ask themselves in these situations is: Would we rather see a disabled tenant caring for their much needed “therapeutic” pet OR do we want to see the ambulance and the coroner because a disabled tenant just couldn’t find a reason to face another day and keep breathing anymore. Maybe that is something to think about when No Pet Rules are being made. Rules are fine but that can be made with amendments and this is probably one that should be made with one.

    1. Shel~ I have to say, I agree completely with you. I also suffer from mental illness. My pets mean the world to me. Without them, I would not have a reason to get up in the morning. Or even a reason to live. I’m sure that without them, I would have given into the pain. I just wish people would stop judging and thinking that if the person doesn’t ‘look’ disabled, there’s nothing wrong with them. My dogs are not ‘service’ animals, or trained in anyway, but they are ‘Emotional Support Animals’ that my psychiatrist did prescribe for me. And support they do.

    2. Pets don’t cause problems for these places, the owners do. They fail to properly train, pick up after and curb their animals, this ruins it for all animal movers and those in need of them.

  42. As someone who has Complex PTSD my therapist has been highly recommending a service dog for me. I believe that the letters from her doctors should have been enough, but if I were Ms. Grad, I would have taken the extra step to apply for a service dog. They are now training animals specifically to help with moods like this. And, although, I would have ensured my own compliance with the ADA and Fair Housing Act by taking the proper steps, I believe that Ms. Grad was able to prove that she did, indeed, suffer from SAD and Bi-Polar Disorder and the lawsuit was fair and valid.

    1. The animal does not have to be certified to be in compliance with the law. There is also a difference between a service animal and a therapeutic support animal, which is what she ultimately had.

    1. Please be aware that your statement is a blanket judgement against her and anyone else who has a legitimate and documented disability who has an animal as allowed under law to help them to live as independently as possible. .

      1. It’s against the woman who brought the suit nothing more and nothing less. Just cause someone disagrees – doesn’t make their statement any less valid. The woman brought a frivolous suit as she had already solved the problem HERSELF by moving to another apartment.

        1. Bull! You’re saying that someone who has been discriminated against doesn’t have the right to sue? She was forced to move because of their discrimination and brought suit to recover her expense sand had every right to do so. They were the ones that violated the FHA.

          Your logic is faulty.

  43. ADA does NOT require that the animal be certified as a service animal, nor do they require the health care provider to be certified. I’ve been in property management for 20 years and live in Royal Oak, Michigan.Fair housing law is vague in this area…but the apartment community was wrong. Their lawyer stated “witnesses said she was walking around the property “happy as a lark”‘. What makes them qualified?

  44. What BigMomma said. If she’d been depressed all the time, she’d have been diagnosed with monopolar depression. Being BIPOLAR means your moods swing between both extreme ends of the spectrum. Sounds to me like the co-op board members who turned her down based on the fact that she was happy sometimes were idiots, to be brutally frank. They were just looking for an excuse to ban her dog. Their actions based on ignorance were just begging for a lawsuit, and that’s what they got. It’s on them, and the ruling was correct.

    1. The mentally ill woman could’ve just LET IT GO. She already solved the problem by moving so there was no need to bring the suit in the first place.

      1. At that point it wasn’t just about her. These idiots would likely
        continue with their idioting if someone else with a disability moved in. They needed a smack to rub in the idea that they’d done wrong, and the lawsuit gave them one.

        And the fact of the matter is that they caused her harm. That’s what a lawsuit is about. It doesn’t matter that she moved away. Moving is expensive and disruptive and she should NOT have had to do it. They caused her unnecessary harm for a bogus reason, and she was entitled to justice, bottom line.

        By your theory that “already solved the problem” means the offender is no longer subject to any consequences, if someone has their car stolen and replaces it before the thief is found and arrested, then the thief should be released because, after all, the victim already solved the problem. It’s the same thing.

    2. Angie gets it! I am a retired disability civil rights advcocate, and you are absolutely right Angie! The co-op board members sound like a lot of people who opposed my clients. I am not an attorney, just a very forceful person who has attempted to educate those who would oppose my clients, and when they were STILL unwilling to allow my clients their civil rights under the Fair Housing Laws and Americans With Disability Act, I would become actually quite militant and would dig up dirt on those opposing my client and used it as blackmail-and my clients won EVERY TIME. Due to the continued prejudice against people with mental illness in particular and disabilities, in general, you have to be a junkyard dog against an ignorant and bigoted world. I have Aspergers myself, and have been severely discriminated against myself in the form of harassment and bullying, and it has put the wrath of hell in my heart for my clients. I have often had to get into the faces of bigots and yell my loudest at them for their sheer stupidity and bigotry. I am five feet tall, but I can yell loudly. I have backed MANY into corners telling them off.

  45. ADA, in a nutshell, says that any animal that a person says is therapeutic, must be allowed on public transportation, housing, churches etc… And what part of bi-polar doesn’t the board understand? Yes, at times she is happy as a lark, other times, not so much. As per the law, the ruling was correct.

    1. Also, there can be a HUGE difference between BEING happy as a lark, and ACTING happy as a lark. It’s pretty easy to keep a smile on as you walk from your door to your car. Most depressed people have learned to pretend to be happy-faced when in public.

      1. She also could have been happy as a lark because she has Bipolar Disorder. Mania could have explained her behavior at the time.

  46. Disagree! Had a certified, professionally trained, service dog been prescribed by a healthcare professional, Grad would have had legal grounds for the complaint. So what about those choosing to live in that facility because of the no-pet policy? Would their rights have been abused?

    1. I disagree with you statements. Emotional support animals are also allowed under the Fair Housing Act. If another tenant had a legitimate complaint (the dog was not trained how to behave) then that could be grounds for the owner to prove that the animal is able to fulfill the requirements under the law.

      1. strawberryfanatic, I am a retired disability civil rights advocate, and a lot of the time the person with a disability was able to train the dog to fulfill their needs. The ignorance and bigotry of the defendants in this case is APALLING. Their observation of this lady “walking around happy as a lark” is TOTALLY prejudiced and without merit in its ignorance. People can take prescribed meds to manage mental illnesses. I had as a client, a middle-aged man with bipolar disorder but since he was taking his meds properly, no one would have thought he had a mental illness of any kind. Like it or not, mental illness is covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and no amount of petitioning or protesting on your part is going to change that.

    2. At the time the request for a PSD was made psychiatric service dogs did not even come under the ADA much less the Fair Housing Law. Now both emotional support animals and all service dogs; for the blind, deaf, seizures, mobility, psychiatric disorders, autism etc. are allowed in NON-PET apartments as they are NOT pets. According to my friend, her psychologist and psychiatrist both wrote letters and the dog was trained to perform specific tasks. Dogs are not required to be certified. If a service dog is certified the certification is only through the agency that it was trained in. Agency trained certified dogs at that time cost $25,000 now $50,000. Many agencies training dogs want 1/2 up front and then to work with your church or another organization to pay the rest. Churches and bake sales are not going to raise that kind of money. Many people are now self-training service dogs as they cannot afford to purchase one. While this person is a civilian, think of how this would affect our vet’s with emotional disorders if they were not allowed to have their PSD’s at their Side.

    3. Pb1965, Mental illness is a bona fide disability and fulfills the definition of disability. Grad’s physician can and probably DID verify that in the court of law or she would not have been able to prove justification. READ UP on the Fair Housing Laws and the Americans With Disabilities Act. I am retired now, but for ten years, I was a disability civil rights advocate (but not an attorney), and was able to help clients resolve problems in their (the clients’ favor). I have seen FAR too many people judge a person by appearance. Pb1965, TO HELL with those choosing to live in that facility because of the no-pet policy! Their rights were NOT abused! If you think they were, apparently, you think that all people with disabilities belong in nursing homes, out of sight, out of mind. I’d like to see YOU forced in the same situation as Grad, and you would have wanted the law to be on your side. Both Fair Housing laws and the Americans With Disabilities Act supported Grad’s quest. She won the case JUSTIFIABLY.

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