A Florida man is fighting his condo association to keep his pet squirrel, Brutus. He claims that the squirrel is an emotional support animal that helps him deal with post-traumatic stress stemming from a 2004 car accident.
The condo association’s position is that the rules prohibit exotic animals and that there are liability risks if the association allows a wild and potentially dangerous animal to live in the condominium.
The owner has filed a complaint with the Florida Office of Human Rights, claiming that the condominium association is violating the Fair Housing Act by its efforts to prohibit him from keeping Brutus in his unit. He provided a letter from his doctor which states that he needs an emotional support animal to “enhance his day-to-day functionality” and to mitigate his symptoms.
The human rights case is currently pending.
This case raises a number of interesting questions:
- Does the medical evidence conclusively determine that he needs Brutus?
- Can a cat or dog or other common domestic animal provide the emotional support that the owner needs?
- Does Brutus pose a danger to the other condominium residents?
- Can the danger be alleviated by imposing rules that will allow Brutus to live in the unit as long as he is not permitted to be on the common elements?
- As the car accident and resulting post-traumatic stress happened in 2004, why was there no need for an emotional support animal until the past year, when the owner found and “adopted” Brutus?
It will be interesting to see how this case is decided.