Right-to-pet verdicts

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2004:

The California State Court of Appeal on September 3 made
binding on all trial courts in California an August 25 ruling that a
homeowners’ association “no pets” rule may be overridden by a
resident’s documented need for a companion animal. The Court of
Appeal held that an animal need not have special skills or training
to be a therapeutic helper to the clinically depressed, and
reinstated an award of $18,000 in damages made in 2002 to Ed and
Jayne Elebiari by the California Fair Employment & Housing
Commission. Both clinically depressed, they adopted a shelter dog
in April 1999 at the recommendation of their therapists. The dog
helped them, but the Auburn Woods I Condominium Association obliged
them to give him to a friend in June 1999. The Elebiaris relapsed
into depression and relocated to Rochester, New York, where they
adopted another dog. The California Department of Fair Employment &
Housing sued the condo association on their behalf in February 2001.

The California appellate verdict came three weeks after a
comparable ruling by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, affirmed
by Oakland County Circuit Judge Fred Mester, who awarded $107,749 in
emotional damages and legal fees to Christine Emmick of Royal Oak. A
resident of the Royalwood Cooperative Apartments for more than 10
years, Emmick in 1998 took in her mother, who had terminal lung
cancer, and her dog Max. The Royalwood board ordered Emmick to get
rid of Max in 1999. Emmick and her mother took a second apartment
elsewhere in order to keep Max. Emmick returned to her Royalwood
condo with Max after her mother’s death. In July 2001 Royalwood
began eviction proceedings despite the advice of Bimingham
psychologist Michael Abramsy that Max was necessary to maintaining
Emmick’s emotional health.

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